Silenced

You're looking at (no longer listening to)
a big-time copyright infringer who has been shut down.
A guest post from Kazzy's husband, Gideon Burton.

Kazzy isn't too happy today. Her voice is being silenced, literally, by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Today she received a notice from Blogger that someone had complained of her infringing upon copyright. If she doesn't remove the copyrighted material from her blog it will be shut down. So, she's complying. After nearly 800 posts and many years, she doesn't want to put her blog at risk.


Here's the bad news.
I think it's cool that Blogger mentioned
the chilling effect of this action.
What makes me sad is that her singing has been such a central part of this blog and of her online presence generally. Kazzy has, of course, made no money from all of her singing. But copyright holders are becoming aggressive in protecting their intellectual property that is posted on large sites like Blogger or Box.net.

So, if you want to hear Kazzy's singing, you'll have to send her an email and she will send you the .mp3 file directly. Not as much fun, but there it is. Just don't post it online!

Today's take-down notice has already discouraged her from doing additional singing. She's even worried about her novel, part of which she posted online, because it was (quite loosely) based on a novel by Faulkner. What if they shut down her blog, or take her to court? Yep. That's how creativity gets killed in the digital age.

This is known as the "chilling effect" of current copyright law (check out chillingeffects.org for more info). Kazzy's case is a perfect example. Even though her singing is only promoting the brand of the singers whose work she has imitated and she never makes a dime from her singing, she is an infringer, a scoff-law now, and not the amateur but oh-so-beautiful performing artist that we've come to enjoy whenever she posted another song. This chilling effect is powerfully ironic, as the original intent of copyright was to encourage creative work. In the digital age, when algorithms and bots can identify potentially infringing material and automatically take it down (Kazzy's post with the offending cover of a K.T. Tunstall song was automatically removed by Blogger) -- it creates a climate of non-creativity. Do you feel the chill?

We need better copyright law for creative people of all stripes. We also need to use creative commons licensing as an alternative (both when producing and using media). I encourage those of you who share dissatisfaction about the current legal status of intellectual property to follow the work of Nina Paley (an animator and advocate of "copyleft" who urges us to question copyright) or to read the books listed below.

In the meantime, what are your thoughts about Kazzy being silenced? How does this make you feel about copyright law?

Lewis Hyde, Common as Air:
Revolution, Art, and Ownership

Keith Aoki, Bound by Law:
Tales from the Public Domain

James Boyle, The Public Domain:
Enclosing the Commons of the Mind

Lawrence Lessig, Free Culture:
The Nature and Future of Creativity

15 comments

L.T. Elliot | December 3, 2012 at 1:19 PM

Personally, I hate that I can't listen to your beautiful voice adding richness to songs I love. I've seen this same thing happen with pictures on blogs. Someone harmlessly posts a picture of a cat and they're slapped with a lawsuit.

In one case, it practically destroyed the blogging career of one girl because she wasn't allowed to blog during the lawsuit until everything was settled.

I understand protecting someone's rights (don't pirate music, don't steal movies, etc) but in some cases, it's getting to the point where if you randomly mention on facebook that you LIKED a movie, you could get in trouble for it.

Anyway, I think the whole thing is getting WAY out of hand. And I'm sad to think I can't hear your voice on your blog anymore.

Jenny Lynn | December 3, 2012 at 2:14 PM

This makes me sad today. At the same time I have learned something. I will be careful about my own creativity and posting it on blogger.

Momza | December 3, 2012 at 2:25 PM

Boo. Can you imagine if Mozart never allowed anyone to perform his music without his express permission?
I need to be careful as well.
Just don't stop singing where you can, Kazzy. Your voice should always be heard.

Kazzy | December 3, 2012 at 2:50 PM

Hey friends, I am not discouraged. I love my blogging experience for many reasons, and the singing was just one of them. All is well!

Jenny P. | December 3, 2012 at 8:11 PM

I'm sad to hear this too, because your voice is oh, so very lovely. Before I read this post, I would have assumed that as long as you weren't selling copies of your songs, than surely it wouldn't be infringement. I guess I learned something from this too. I don't like it, but I'm glad it isn't going to make you stop blogging all together. However it is expressed, yours is a voice that always needs to be heard.

wendy | December 3, 2012 at 8:59 PM

what the WHAT ??
I can never understand how some things turn up being such a big deal....when It shouldn't be.

DeNae / SHP | December 3, 2012 at 9:28 PM

I asked Ed Thompson (works with the OATS and the MoTabs) about recording people's written music. And he says it's the same thing; you can't record anyone's composition without permission and payment to the copyright holder. My daughter will be very sad about this, and I've got at least one YouTube vid up that will probably get slammed, on accounta I'm sure there have been a good 8 views on it! I'm just glad I get to sing with you in person from time to time. Lucky me!

Bonnie | December 3, 2012 at 11:30 PM

It's sad that we feel we own anything. Just reading about how the earth fills the measure of its creation, and it holds nothing back from us, giving freely of its resources for our benefit. We are unwise to think that the inspiration that flows so freely into our minds and hearts had its genesis there, and further unwise when we hoard it and stamp it and refuse to share it for the benefit of others. Young people are really quite good at it; it's something I appreciate about this oh-so-open generation. Perhaps they will rewrite the laws of creativity that must be bought and sold.

Bossy Betty | December 4, 2012 at 9:08 AM

while I understand an artist's right to control his/her own material, it seems to me this is overkill. Kazzy never claimed the songs as her own and never profited. Bummer and yes, chilling as well.

Ann Marie | December 4, 2012 at 10:15 AM

This makes me mad.

And sad.

No wonder you wouldn't address me on Facebook about recording yourself for that Christmas song.

If you EVER do make a CD.. or MP3 playlist.. I would LOVE a copy of you singing those songs.. because you have a beautiful voice lady!!

I feel like we need another lunch date. Maybe I'll come to provo. Maybe January? Love you girlie!



Luann | December 4, 2012 at 10:19 AM

Yes, I'm feeling the chill. Kazzy, kudos to you for keeping a good attitude about this oppressive situation.

Garden of Egan | December 5, 2012 at 9:40 AM

Absolute nuts.
I will be sad to not be able to hear those random bursts if creativity at a moments notice.

LisAway | December 9, 2012 at 4:14 PM

Kazzy's always seemed a bit of a shady character to me, and this just confirms it.

Seriously though, I have heard and not really understood all the talk about the copyright law and this is my first glimpse into what it means and why a lot of people have a hard time with it. I'm sorry it's affected you and your readers and listeners (me). :(

Life 101 | December 31, 2012 at 8:08 PM

Yikes! Da Man came down on you. I would be flattered if someone shared or same a song that I wrote.

I know you can't toy with this stuff, but it does seem like a shame to not be able to share.

Anonymous | January 12, 2013 at 8:32 AM

People are strange when you are a stranger. Faces look ugly when you know the truth.