no copyright law in the universe is going to stop me [from demanding compliance with various UN human rights and cultural diversity declarations]

Currently the first autocompletion result upon typing “no copyright” into YouTube’s search is “no copyright law in the universe is going to stop me”, which is apparently a string used in the description of 108 videos on YouTube, and the title of at least one. It seems this phrase is primarily an anti-SOPA expression rather than an admonition to not take down whatever video is described.

Andy Baio pointed out late last year that disclaimers of intent to infringe others’ copyrights and claims of fair use frequently appear in the descriptions of videos on YouTube. He noted 489,000 and 664,000 results for the queries "no copyright" and "copyright" "section 107". Those numbers may have grown significantly in the last nearly 3 months, but should be taken with a huge grain of salt. Yesterday for me, “no copyright” obtained 906,000, while today YouTube has said both 972,000 and 3,850,000 to the same query. For “copyright” “section 107”, yesterday 771,000, today 418,000. I don’t know how many videos were on YouTube 3 months ago, but yesterday an empty query claimed 567,000,000; today I’ve seen 537,000,000 and 550,000,000 — maybe on the order of 1% of videos have some sort of copyright disclaimer. But there are variations that might not be picked up by the queries Baio used, including for example two of the descriptions I posted a few days ago.

Although they’re probably completely useless in preventing automated takedowns and in court (though it’s not entirely clear they ought be useless in either case), as expression they’re at the very least interesting, and perhaps more. Though they can be seen as “voodoo charms”, so can the ubiquitous “all rights reserved”, and even meaningful public copyright licenses can be seen as such to the extent they are misunderstood or totemic. My main objection to the disclaimers Baio brought attention to is that they’re clutter to the extent they crowd out writing or reading other information about works; and just about anything else is more useful, from provenance to expressions of appreciation, eg “In my opinion, one of the greatest songs of the ’80s.”

But my first reaction to such disclaimers is the wish that they would be more expressive, even substantial. Regarding the latter, in many cases the uploader has added something to or rearranged the work in question — e.g., where the work is a song, the addition of images, or the performance of a cover. How often does the uploader grant permissions to use whatever expression they’ve added? (I don’t know; one aggregate tool for exploring such might be the addition of &creativecommons=1 to the aforementioned queries, which will limit results to those marked as CC-BY.) One fairly well known case of something like this is Girl Talk’s All Day:

All Day by Girl Talk is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license. The CC license does not interfere with the rights you have under the fair use doctrine, which gives you permission to make certain uses of the work even for commercial purposes. Also, the CC license does not grant rights to non-transformative use of the source material Girl Talk used to make the album.

Too bad with the NonCommercial condition, and I really don’t like Girl Talk’s music (for something kind of similar that I prefer aesthetically and in terms of permissions granted, check out xmarx), but otherwise that’s a great statement.

Over the past few months someone or some people have made me aware of another example, one that replaces disclaimers with demands. You can see some of this on my English Wikipedia user talk page (start at “Common IP” — unfortunately doesn’t pass through internal links, so you’ll have to scroll down). It may appear that my correspondent is religious and communicating poorly through automated translation between Russian and English, but there’s a kernel of something interesting there. If I understand correctly, they think that without listening to the Beatles, one cannot develop morally (that comes from elsewhere, not on my talk page) and that per a variety of United Nations declarations concerning human rights and especially cultural diversity, anyone has the legal right and moral duty to share Beatles material. As far as I know they started this campaign at and moved on to other sites, including Wikipedia. It is pretty clear that they’re not looking for links to or some other site they control — I think they’re sincerely promoting something they believe in, not a money-making scam.

The flaws in their campaign are legion, not least of which is that there could hardly be a worse body of work than that of the Beatles around which to plead for rights to share in the name of cultural diversity. As the Beatles are one of if not the most popular acts ever, the most obvious conclusion is that more Beatles exposure must lower global cultural diversity. On the related issue of cultural preservation, super-famous material like that of the Beatles is going to survive for a long time in spite of copyright restrictions, even vigorously enforced (see James Joyce).

As to their persistent requests for some kind of permission from me to proceed with their campaign, I say two things:

  1. As far as the copyright regime is concerned, the permissions I have to grant to you are nil.
  2. As far as demands made in the name of human rights, no human requires permission from any other to pursue those. Godspeed to you, or perhaps I should say, Beatlespeed!

I want to thank my correspondent for causing me to look at the and subsequent documents. The way they address “intellectual property”, to the extent that they do, is more curious than I would’ve thought. I leave that to a future post.

p.s. My favorite Beatles.

19 Responses

  1. Hello. Александр Болдин worries you (chief in the community with the common ISP). I decided again provide support for this user from my community (GM). You gave the permission for the uploading of sound recordings of The Beatles to Internet Archive. You and GM did not understood each other rightly on this stage (currently). He wants get your confirmation in the relation of specifically the uploading (your sanction to do this action). You can do not take responsibility for the project, but the uploading is the result of your permission (not exists other sense). You do not try be free of responsibility for the permission to upload files (you demonstrate the link to the talk page in your blog post), but excess details in the blog post …. I ask you to respect the human, who does not looking for any profit, but makes all only for the celebration of human rights. I ask you remove (not demonstrate) the history of the creation of your permission. Has meaning the good result only, but not the damage of honor. You can simply write, for example: «I gave the permission for the uploading of sound recordings of The Beatles to Internet Archive». The golden phrase. Details are not needed. Please respect your volunteers. We are volunteers. Thanks for attention!

  2. I have no permission to give, and did not give any.

    With respect and without indulgence of fantasy,

  3. What is this? from your talk page.

    HTML5 is a royalty-free standard: nobody has to pay to implement or use it. My understanding is that includes some code from Kaltura, all free and open source, and will soon be used to display media on Wikimedia sites, including Wikipedias. is a great place to upload audio recordings. There are certainly many people who think albums, even songs, are not the future of music. Please do experiment with new forms! Mike Linksvayer (talk) 21:16, 22 January 2012 (UTC)

  4. “audio recordings” is generic; I did not say “Beatles recordings”, nor did I mention permission. Someone above there had asked about starting a netlabel. Frankly I hoped they might do that rather than continuing to fixate of the Beatles, but obviously my hope was baseless.

  5. Mike, context !!! Only stupid human can not understand, that sound recordings of The Beatles are the single subject of the discuss and nothing more (titles of topic, questions, answers, suggestions and ……………..). If you are sure absolutely, that all people are not clever, in this case I agree with you.

    Additional question: Did you suggested implement violation of copyright in the relation of EMI, Apple and The Beatles? In such conditions, when this suggestion can be implemented practically !!!

    «I suggest you try adding the Beatles to Jamendo, and see how far you get. Where copyright licenses required, Amazon has deals with copyright holders or their agents, eg distributors. I’m not the person to ask basic questions about other websites nor about copyright. Thanks. Mike Linksvayer (talk) 06:48, 15 December 2011 (UTC)»

    User Un500 did not became do it simply, but was possibility do it in any moment. Result not has big meaning (YOU SUGGESTED DO IT).

    This blog post here discredits you in the first place. I ask you respect rights of human, for whom you gave the permission (and with big shame you want to waive of this). If you will continue do it, I will ask at GM the password from his e-mail, to get more proofs. I support users from my community, in the same time I have some benefits (as the chief). You must confirm your permission and remove info, which creates the great damage for honest people. Need remove: the link to your talk page on Wikipedia (and other bad information). Best option: «I gave the permission for the uploading of sound recordings of The Beatles to Internet Archive» (because this is the single truth). By the way: I have the dream to become journalist-professional …. P.S. I focus your attention: only real fool can to believe your words on this issue here. Respect your volunteers !!!

  6. Forbid after moderation not means freedom of responsibility !!!

  7. My suggestion to upload to Jamendo “and see how far you get” was ironic: whoever tried, would not get far! Another attempt to point out the futility of this campaign to promote the Beatles through uploading tracks to various sites. I realize now that it is futile to explain the futility of your (or whoever’s) campaign, and the bizarre sideshow of asking my permission, thus I stop here.

  8. Mike, we (he) ask you about several little things: remove the history (info from your talk page, the word beatles1), do not speak that you did not gave permission (this is not truth). One of the best options: delete this blog post totally (it is creates damage for you more of all, you can be sure). Because lie, is not benefits for your reputation. Again I repeat: only fool can believe to your words in the context of all this situation. Question else: Can you give authority for volunteers? Sense: they have the power (lower, than at the staff, of course). Such volunteers will do something useful without creation for the staff of any responsibility. In such cases nobody will speak about any permission from you (logically). Thank you.

  9. mmu_man says:

    “The way they address “intellectual property”” … that is none at all :D

    The term “intellectual property” is a lawyer’s unnatural construction whose sole design is to make something fit somewhere it is not supposed to…
    The very fact that it must be prefixed with “intellectual” (I prefer “imaginary”) tells that it’s not real property… therefore anyone (including EU commissionner De Gucht who is a lawyer and pro-ACTA) defending those as part of “fundamental rights” is misguided at best, if not mad.

  10. Please explain me more detail (clearly). I am Russian and even bot – bad helper to me.

  11. Because Jamendo implements the real crime against a law, when suggests for everybody to become The Beatles or become English Queen (joke), I ask you, Mike: You must do not continue any relation with this website and forbid use your licenses (the CC). Because you are accomplice otherwise !!!

  12. Mike, independent experts and journalists will get invitation visit this blog post, if you will continue do wrong actions.

  13. mmu_man,

    I know, thus the scare quotes. Unfortunately the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005) does use the phrase, which demonstrates the poor direction of the world on this issue. Previous documents that I’ve looked at don’t use the term and are more subtle in addressing the subject. But that’s for a future post.

  14. Mike, but issues on Jamendo in force: nobody canceled that it is the crime.

  15. Mike, what about give the some authority for volunteer?

  16. Mike, do you respect your comrades from IA? If YES, it means: you can confirm, that The Beatles songs (for human rights) are on legal grounds currently in the IA (logically). Long time ago the materials exist in the IA, because. And any claims are not exist !!! All happy.

  17. Mike, you and your friends-offenders (Brewster Kahle ….) will go to hell. We found method. This journalist will write all the truth: . He will write about dark side of the Creative Commons (and related organizations). If you not will become clever. Remember: Jamendo ..,….millions of other damages for copyright holders in different scopes. You must now restore all 328 pages of IA with songs. Otherwise. Reporter waits to defend human rights which were violated. You violated politics of UNESCO. All world will know about crimes of the CC via CNN. And via hundreds of relevant organizations. Your selection: life or death of the movement. Joke not exists. This is black reality for company of offenders in the scope of copyright. IA and Jamendo also will be destroyed. Your stupid licenses cost nothing from this moment. Mike, you must think about prison. Very soon this can become reality for you and not only. Movements on human rights will take part in the destroying of your criminal group. You must correct this fatal mistake ! Time is not rubber.

  18. Mike, we will give you read articles on Russian (which will be published at CNN on English or Russian languages). You can self translate it. New age for Creative Commons is became reality. Terrible age. You have small chance be free of this. Last chance. We will help for reporter to look for proofs. You are offenders and you know this, Mike. You love rob right holders. All my users will help us to make you sitting in prison. Read Russian text (soon will be at CNN):

    О сайте Джамендо. Лицензии организации Креатив Коммонс применяются достаточно широко. Множество проектов использует это на законных основаниях, но другая половина использует лазейки, которые созданы для превращения авторского права в посмешище. Если на сайте Джамендо под протекцией этой организации вы попытаетесь загрузить песню какого-либо исполнителя, вам предложат “стать Битлз”, например. После небольшой процедуры вы можете осквернять авторское право компаний ЭМИ, Эппл Корпс и группы Битлз – сколько душе угодно. Кто виновен в этом преступлении? В первую очередь, Креатив Коммонс, под лицензией которой такое стало возможно. Какие последствия? Некий правообладатель будет терять миллионы долларов из-за мошеннической схемы.

  19. Mike, where are you? Reporter is tired wait. GM – very kind. A large number of possibilities to create problems, but he is kind.

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