Update: Bubble Video Reposted

To offer a quick update on yesterday’s post regarding The Richter Scales’ “Here Comes Another Bubble” video, the video has been reuploaded to YouTube and is now available for viewing again.

The new version of the video, which The Richter Scales refer to as version 1.1, not only adds a full credit roll, but a link to a static credits page and also removes Lane Hartwell’s original photograph.

This resolves all of the known copyright issues in the video itself and, it would seem, clears the video for a long run on YouTube. However, the issue is not resolved and, in fact, some elements of it seem to be only intensifying.

Hartwell’s Reply

Hartwell, for her part, seemed unimpressed by the modification and reupload of the video. She posted an update to her blog stating that she is continuing to seek compensation for the use and is sending an invoice to the Richter Scales.

According to Hartwell, she will use any payment from the invoice to fist pay her attorney and donate the rest to the Kids with Cameras charity, a non-profit that teaches photography to children.

There has been no indication from The Richter Scales as to whether or not they intend to pay this invoice upon receipt but, according to Hartwell, they had already declined this offer during the early negotiations.

Some Analysis

Since my original article divided up the “Mistake Were Made” section into two parts, one looking at the Richter Scales and the other at Hartwell, I’m going to do the same here with the follow-up.

The Richter Scales

The Richter Scales came through beautifully in this matter for the most part. The new video includes a full credit roll and I particularly like the addition of a static credit page that is referenced in the video. I think it’s a great idea and should be looked at as a possible industry standard for how content used in web videos is attributed.

It is a neat idea and a great way to combine standard industry practices in movie making with the Web.

I am slightly disappointed in their statement “when we created Version 1.0 we didn’t see similar YouTube videos crediting every image used, nor did what we read about fair use point us towards the need to do so.”

That seems, in a way, to be an attempt to shift some of the blame to other YouTube members that don’t follow good attribution practices. If that logic is followed, then the fact that about 60% of my writing that is reused is unattributed means that it is OK for others to the same even though it is a clear violation of my license.

Providing attribution is the right thing to do and that is regardless of what others do or what even what the law says.

Still, I am very glad that The Richter Scales have been made “sensitive” to the attribution issue and did such a great job providing it for all of the material used in the video.

Let’s hope that this saga causes others to take more interest in attribution and follow their lead.

Lane Hartwell

My main criticism of Hartwell the first time around was that she was overplaying her hand when it came to the damage the video did to her work and underplaying the fair use issues.

Sadly, her recent move only makes the situation worse.

You don’t run a Web site called “Plagiarism Today” for nearly two and a half years without being a believer in the importance of copyright protection. I sympathize with Hartwell greatly both as a fellow artist and as someone who has had their works ripped off many times over. However, I can not support this action as it ignores both the steps The Richter Scales have taken to make things right and fair use issues that are still present.

Yes, her attorney needs to be paid and I am sure that the bill is eye-popping (I’m yet to see a legal bill that isn’t) but it wasn’t necessary to resolve this issue. When she hired the attorney, she was aware of the fair use questions and the unlikeliness that she would ever collect money from the case.

This is why artists should take the time to learn copyright law themselves so that they can protect their own works on the Web and not require the aid of an attorney save extreme cases where a lawsuit is likely or strange legal issues are raised. It can help save time, money and drama by putting you more in control of your own content.

After all, I’ve shut down hundreds of plagiarists without paying attorney fees. I’ve consulted several as friends, but never as a client, and I have never found myself in the center of something like this.

Resolution

I don’t really see The Richter Scales paying the invoice. They have little motivation to so and, if the invoice includes legal fees plus overage, it is likely to be a pretty steep bill that they would not be able to pay easily.

However, I do think that The Richter Scales should consider donating to Kids With Cameras, not so much to appease Hartwell, but because it is a wonderful charity and everyone should consider it. Even better, in this case, it would be a great way to show that there are no hard feelings and that there are issues bigger than an online feud over a photograph.

Given the time of year, it is only appropriate to be both forgiving and charitable.

As far as Hartwell’s legal expenses go, there is a simple solution. If she truly needs help paying her expenses, then I am certain her fans will be happy to help. They have been very supportive of her through this and I’m sure they would be willing to chip in.

Though it might seem unfair to shift the financial burden over to fans, this model has been used many times before successfully, though typically in legal defense funds.

The goal of supporting artists in protecting their work is certainly a noble one and, even though this particular case was misguided in several ways, I certainly don’t want to discourage other artists from getting help when they need it and I know that her supporters feel the same way.

With that in mind, a legal fund not only makes sense, but might help contribute to a much larger cause as well.

Conclusions

This case is not about who “wins” or “loses”. It’s about finding a fair resolution and one that is both peaceful and practical.

I think this whole ordeal has opened up a lot of eyes to both the need for proper attribution and respecting artist’s work, but also the power of remixing as an art form and the need to balance the rights of the artist with the rights of the person doing the remixing.

Extremists on both sides have had their views dulled a bit by this case and I think, strangely, that this whole ordeal might bring the bulk of Web closer to the center on these matters.

For all of the trolls, insults, heated exchanges and outright flame wars, there is a good chance that this case could, in the long run, help bring about peace.

That is the hope at least. However, whether it comes to fruition is really a matter of how we respond to what happened and how we carry on in the future.

Video

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