14: Copyright

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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After reading Slashdot and BoingBoing, sometimes I have to go outside.
Title text: After reading Slashdot and BoingBoing, sometimes I have to go outside.


Following the copyright wars can be tiring and irritating; but faced with the beauty of nature, the importance of such matters withers away.

Copyright is a monopoly granted by governments to writers, artists, and performers to control the distribution, copying, and performance of their creative expression. Before the digital age, it allowed authors and publishers an opportunity to profit from their work without fear of someone making copies and selling them for their gain.

In the digital age, when the cost and difficulty of copying has been reduced to near zero, it hasn't worked so well, especially for publishers of music and video. Industry trade organizations like the RIAA and MPAA have fought to preserve their old business models, lobbying for new laws to protect their income streams in an age where anyone can copy an MP3 file or a DVD quickly and cheaply. This has involved ordering web sites to take down "infringing" material (and many times material which wasn't infringing), media campaigns comparing file copiers to folks who commit murder on the high seas, and suing artists and writers who have used samples of music or movies in their own work. The RIAA have claimed that rampant illegal copying hurts the artists whose work is copied, as it cuts into the artists royalty payments; many artists, on the other hand, complain that the RIAA's accounting practices have denied them their fair royalties for decades anyway, and that increased copying leads to increased fans and money through direct sales and is actually better for them than the RIAA. It's a vicious war.

An early casualty in the copyright wars was Napster, a later casualty was the concept of DRM (Digital Rights Management) on recorded music. The wars have been going on since the early 1990s and show no sign of slowing down.

Slashdot and Boing Boing are two news aggregation websites which cover (among other things) the copyright wars in detail, usually biased against the RIAA, MPAA, and similar organizations.


[Colored drawing of a hilly grassy landscape, Cueball leaning against a tree.]
Cueball: Sometimes I just can't get outraged over copyright law


  • This is the twelfth comic originally posted on livejournal. The previous was 10: Pi Equals. The next was 11: Barrel - Part 2. View archive here.
  • Original title: "Copyright Law"
  • Original Randall quote: "I posted this to a Slashdot thread about copyrights, and without any moderation, over 600 people clicked on it."

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First world problems. Davidy22[talk] 14:09, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

Yeah, definitely! :D A funny thing is that according to Know Your Meme Google statistics the "first world problems"-thing started in 2011, but in Sweden we've had jokes about "I-landsproblem" all since Hipphipp! (a hilarious Swedish humor show) ran back in 2001/2003. –St.nerol (talk) 17:28, 8 January 2013 (UTC)