[mythtv-users] A new theme on the way...

Christopher Meredith chmeredith at gmail.com
Thu Oct 22 20:17:42 UTC 2009

On Thu, Oct 22, 2009 at 2:54 PM, Robert McNamara
<robert.mcnamara at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Thu, Oct 22, 2009 at 12:44 PM, Christopher Meredith
> <chmeredith at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Robert,
>> None of my interaction here is meant to be personal or particular to
>> you. I definitely understand though if you take it personally. I just
>> hope you don't equate my disagreement with you for disrespect of you.
>> That said, your analogy breaks down at the key place. What if we had
>> the Star Trekkian "replicator" technology and I was able to replicate
>> your Stang, then put a hemi in my copy? Such an act takes nothing away
>> form the work you put in or the finished product. You still have
>> yours, I have mine, what difference does it make?
> The problem with this argument is, where does the artist's work end?
> If you make an exact copy, and I mean down to the atom, which is the
> artist's work?  Is the artists work only the first of a given thing,
> or is there an intangible quality that transcends the original unique
> form?  Moreover, it sidesteps the moment of agreement to the license,
> and I think is the critical stumbling block in this kind of
> discussion-- if you know in advance that the license is not one whose
> terms you can comply with, or whose terms are morally unacceptable to
> you, is it ethical to accept them and then disregard them?  You might
> feel (given the presupposed replicator technology) that my viewpoint
> is unreasonable, or just totally stupid-- but it's your choice to
> accept the caveats before accepting the work itself.  Personally, I
> think there is a quality that transcends the number of copies made.

Obviously, there is a significant distinction between the "intangible
quality that transcends the original unique form" and the tangible
form in which it is necessarily distributed. Modifying the form does
nothing to the intangible quality; it is, after all, intangible.
Moreover, artistic qualities are usually unique to the the individual;
what one person prefers another despises. I may have a slightly
different artistic vision and if I realize it by changing colors or
alignment, this does nothing to your original vision, which still
exists in the form you distribute.

Regarding the license, a license can only be used to allow others to
exercise the exclusive rights grated by the Copyright Act. A license
can grant someone permission to do something they don't otherwise have
a legal right to do, but they can't be used to take away a
pre-existing legal right. That would be a contract. (The distinction
is important because contracts have to be supported by consideration.)
Personal modification (without publication or distribution) of a
non-commercial work which would have no impact on the market for the
original work is fair use. I have a legal right to do that, and a
"license" cannot take that right away from me.

In the end, you are free to ask people to not modify it, just as I am
free to ask people not to read my book in artificial light. And for
the same reasons, everyone is free to disregard these requests without
any moral or ethical condemnation whatsoever. At bottom, this is a
question of personal preference and there is nothing unethical about
having a different preference than someone else.

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