Copyright vs. The Heart Of Nerdfighting - Part Four Of The Copyright Saga

Please also read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 5 of the Copyright Saga.

What would creating stories, art, games, and whatever, look like without copyright? While I've demonstrated that we will be better off economically if we abandon it, will the art actually be better? I claim that the new methods are being demonstrated at least partially as the Heart of Nerdfighting, but will start off by showing how it has worked in more established domains. Note that the method I present will not be the only method that new stories are created, but should be general enough to give you a good idea.

The method of creating new art that I am proposing is based on two ideas:
1.) The artist creates his art for both a specific and a general audience. The specific audience is a group of people that he gets immediate feedback from. They actually become a part of the art because their participation changes and improves it. The general audience is everyone else who enjoys the art, but can't give immediate feedback. The difference here is like someone attending a concert and someone listening to the concert recording. I really only mention the generic audience so that its clear that no one is left out who doesn't want to be.

2.) Individual people create their own art by mixing the art from other creators with their own talents. They do so without barriers (outside of the normal free speech barriers of slander, defamation, contract law).

Some examples include:
* Blogs - Blogs are probably the most contemporary example. While they tend to be nonfiction, blog posts by popular writers get a ton of feedback and community participation. Its a popular theme on SlashDot, humorous or not, that people read it for the comments, not the articles. Meanwhile, other bloggers tend to link to and comment on the same issue themselves. You may argue that blogs do not break copyright, but that is not the point. The point is that the writers are writing to an audience that they are familiar with and receive comments from. Also, much of their content is either commenting on some other article or participating in a community which shares the same concepts and ideas.

* Twitter / Micro-blogging - Twitter has a similar structure as blogging, except that people often "retweet" other people's twitter messages just adding a the name of the original sender. Without this, trends would probably spread more slowly and be more confusing as people change the original message so they don't violate the copyright.

* Memes - When people send LOLCats, All Your Base jokes, Leeroy Jenkins remakes, and pictures of stuffed animals in tourist destinations to their friends, they are spreading memes. These memes are usually sent to their friends by e-mail or posted to a community site. They obviously copy the method and idea of a similar idea, building on it usually for humor. While some of you might find these annoying and want to use copyright law to stop them, they are very popular.

* Fashion Insutry - The fashion industry is one of the few major industries which don't have copyright protection. Despite this, it is still extremely competitive. Here are some articles:
Lack of Copyright is actually the reason that the fashion industry ...
Connection between fashion to audiences and copying improves the in...
Similar opinions from a different source
The food industry works in a similar way and would be hurt very badly by copyright.

* Campfire stories - Its a time honored tradition to tell stories around a campfire. You have your audience participating by laughing, crying, and acting frightened. Meanwhile, most of the stories have been told before, though not always in the same way. This builds a common set of stories where people tell their favorite stories around other campfires.

* Mythologies, Legends, and Sean Malstrom's Beowulf stories - Legends of old, whether true or not, were created in a manner similar to campfire stories. They were presented as entertainment to an audience, but one storyteller did not own the rights to any particular story. In fact, good storytellers were highly sought after and earned their living by telling common stories, often including songs and a little acting.

* Modern Remakes - While modern remakes typically don't pay attention to a specific audience, they do take old stories and remake them with the director's different style. Disney has done this with most of their animated movies, taking old legends and stories like the story of Alladin or Alice and Wonderland and making a movie about it. Greg Dean makes a similar point in his comic, Real Life.

* Fan Fiction - I hinted at this in the previous example, but fan fiction is an excellent example of this process. Most significantly, fans of the original work are creating new art using the characters and themes of the original work. Fan fiction tends to form communities where authors read each others work and comment on them, giving them a specific audience. People who participate in the fan fiction community tend to buy more of the art from the original creator than those who don't because of their personal investment in the universe and need to get more material. Fan fiction also tends to meet the needs of people which are not being met by the creator and bring more people to be interested in their work. People who criticize fan fiction tend to criticize more the problem that it is an amateur work and tends to be low quality, rather than any legal dubiousness. Webcomics fall loosely in with fan-fiction and are an excellent example of a competitive environment that doesn't need copyright.

* Crossovers - Crossovers are a blending of multiple popular stories together. These are popular in fan fiction but show up professionally as well. When they do show up, they are often derided as non-erotic "fan service", but by its name, it makes it clear that they are listening to fans when they create it. Meanwhile, its also obvious that by its very nature, the resulting work builds on an existing form of art. The writing in crossovers tends to be kind of bad, but I think that that is because people aren't used to doing them and that they need the approval of the author. Unfortunately, crossovers are one of the biggest casualties of copyright and tend to only be done within companies or in very special arrangements with a lot of red tape. Japan has the Super Robot Wars and Jump Super Stars video game series, both of which would be very popular in the United States but would require the approval of a ton of different companies and people.

From those examples, I will now show how all of this relates to nerdfighting.
The nerdfighters originally started as an experiment in collaborative video blogging. John and Hank would create videos addressing each other as a very small specific audience and their youtube audience as another one. Using each other as a specific audience made the videos very personal and allowed them to play off each others videos very well. So, the new methods of creating content were being used from the very beginning. However, that is not all.

Individual nerdfighters soon started up their own collaborative channels following John and Hank's model. Meanwhile, whenever John and Hank have an awesome idea, nerdfighters freely jump in and participate. They write their own songs about it, contribute footage of them performing nerdfighting activities, contribute nerdfighter art, poems, and most importantly, turn the ideas from John and Hank into real things. Paige Railstone was just a fictional character, but now nerdfighters can go onto 20 questions and enter her as their idea, and the system thinks that she is a real person. John now has a "Great White Wall Of Cow" and a nerdfighting pirate puppy. Doing that type of stuff is the heart of nerdfighting. Musical nerdfighters made covers of Hank's songs and collaborated for the video. Then Hank made covers of fan nerdfighter songs!

Its obvious that this is a good portion of what being awesome is about, but what about reducing suck?
If you remember my previous articles, you would see all the barriers that copyright creates that stop us from helping people. For instance, textbooks are used frequently for education in America, but the copyright prevents us from distributing them worldwide. The company that owns the textbook doesn't want to distribute them world wide because of extremely low margins and doesn't want to license it out either or they will lose control over their property. Meanwhile, the projects that do help people, like Wikipedia and Linux, are distributed freely and without barrier. If you think that this will hurt the textbook maker, it will reduce prices through competition, but people will still buy their books. In addition, music, novels, and other creations could be produced and distributed much more easily in other countries where they are needed. If we got rid of patents, then medicine, industrial machinery, and consumer products would be much cheaper and easier for poor people to buy as well.

Overall, removing copyright would actually increase the competition and improve the quality of products from those formerly protected industries. Nerdfighters would be more free to create their own "nerdfighting pirate puppies", sequels, song covers, fan movies, fan comics, action figures, and whatever, for their favorite stories and artists. They could send their favorite songs and books to their friends, so that more people become nerdfighters after seeing how awesome they are. Currently all of this has to stay underground and slightly illegal. Nerdfighters also can't make a profit off of it. But rather than "protecting" the original author, keeping fans from making a profit off of their work just limits the means with which they can share their work and advertise for the author.

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Tags: audience, blogging, copyright, crossovers, customers, fan, fashion, fiction, heart, memes, More…music, nerdfighting, saga, twitter, vlogbrothers


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Comment by Bryan Rosander, FL on October 12, 2009 at 5:43pm
You're very welcome! These were very fun to write and I appreciate the feedback.
Comment by ChelseaIRL on October 12, 2009 at 4:49pm
thank you SO much for writing this series! so useful! awesome.
(it's coolhandjohnny from Nerdfighteria Island)

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