The Golden Calf | Abolishing Copyright Law

Share this video on

What's Hot

What's New

Top Grossing

Top of the Chart


Eric Taxxon : As you heard, at the end of this video I gave all of you permission to do whatever you want with my stuff. If you send it my way I might post it on twitter.

vofs : i hate that youtube doesn't let you put in a proper copyleft license on videos. i put a lot of mine up as "standard youtube license" too because the only other option is cc attribution, not share-alike.

Decimae : I don't think I fully agree with an abolishment of copyright; copyright protects authors from large companies taking their working and commercialising it; either against the wishes of or in competition of the small author. If copyright were abolished then small author's work getting popular it would just be ripped off by large companies, and most people would not know the small author at all. The reason why copyright makes sense to me is because it's supposed to be a protection of authors against companies taking their work without payment and credit. And I don't think that people would really take the effort to ensure everything is from the original owner as you seem to suggest. The argument that original sales are not prevented in this case I don't think is really clear-cut; many companies which are large by producing content with authors right now can (and will) just earn the same money by ripping off authors, making sure that none of the authors gain money instead of some. Of course, the current copyright system doesn't really achieve this with it's enormous copyright length and small idea of fair use, and with this implementation a lot of the power still lies with companies instead of the artists. A copyright system with a more reasonable duration (possibly depending on the type of media, around 10-20 years at most for some types of media) and an expanded and more clear version of fair use would be what I would suggest. Maybe in a different kind of economic system this requirement of power of the artist on the companies which reproduce their work is not required, but we are not in such a system and to suggest we should be is an entirely different issue. So I agree that copyright law in its current way of implementation is rather broken, but instead of just removing it altogether we should probably significantly change it instead(or completely overhaul other parts of our society). (also note that I am not incredibly well informed and can be rather stupid with these kind of things; so I probably made some mistakes interpreting your argument, sorry if I did)

MRdaBakkle : As a creative guy myself I never thought of this. I definitely agree that copyright is too damn long. 70 years after the creator dies. And big business lobbies to extend it. If the work is truly great copyright should be fine extending to 10 years after it was created.

theyellowmeteor : Piracy is not theft. It's more like sneaking into the theater. Good points all in all though.

R0DisG0D : Just abolish capitalism and most of the reasons to have copyright in the first place become totally irrelevant.

Alex Johnson : To everyone against abolishing copyrights, I have two words for you. William Shakespeare. Shakespeare lived in a time before copyright was invented, so he was able to use a whole slew of sources and original works to create his own plays and masterpieces. He didn't invent Romeo & Juliet, he just perfected it. And today, his plays are free to use as well! For actors and directors, Shakespeare is a virtual sandbox of poetry that you can make cuts to, embellish, and play with, to create whatever you like. Copyrright would've killed Shakespeare. It strangles true genius and benefits corporate goblins.

Jaxmith : Beyond being a well written/spoken video, you had incredible music choices. Thanks for not just sticking lo-fi hiphop in the background and calling it a day.

The Social Tune : Loved the video, loved your points, glad to see your growth. Keep up the good work!

Jake Alexander : i overall like this vid but as someone whose trans im really really uncomfortable with you calling a terf a genius and "my girl"... You really shouldn't support terfs in anyway imo and while im not mad at you for showing her content, the supportive comments werent ok. Terfs actively hurt trans people so please do not act like she is a great person because she ISNT. Her movement is great but she isnt.

Plaskiz : Removing copyrights would have similiar effect to removing patents, it would simply kill any research&development, because why bother spending millions if not billions to get an edge on the competition if they will simply be able to copy your work and sell it as their own? Can anyone answer this? Why spend 500million employing thousand people to develop a game when you can just wait for someone else to do it then sell it as your own? I get the sentiment as an artist, it's not a big deal to sample and such I think it should be allowed, that's why the conversation should be more about limiting copyright rather than just abolishing it.

Tim Maitland : While it is easy to prove when someone rips you off, I don't think it's a great form of exposure. You've equated it in "mileage", as in the number of fans, but is any audience the right audience? A recent example is 6ix9ine's Day69 album cover, which is pretty clearly copied from a tumblr user named cryptidsp00n. We know the person who drew 6ix9ine's artwork was being redundant and the original artist got credit. But do people really give a shit about cryptidsp00n because of the media exposure? He likely got some followers, but they may have followed just to spite the person who ripped them off. But at least no longer live in the Wal-Mart CD era and albums don't get "pulled from the shelves" over shit like this, and honestly, it's a pretty good cover, even if it looks like something out of an Adventure Time extended universe. I really agree that copyright heavily disincentives crediting other peoples works. Imagine if the creator of 6ix9ine's artwork had just accredited cryptidsp00n and we all called it a day? But then, think of the perspective of a family friendly mass-appeal company like Disney. They don't want Mickey Mouse available for third party market space because they want to keep him marketable for as many people as possible. Mickey Mouse's big ass grin on a butt plug could lose a lot of potential market. However, that's pretty insulting to consumer intelligence and is an idea that sort of stems from copyright law - to think that, for example, a t-shirt of Mickey Mouse performing a bloody exorcist on Goofy is to be associated with the Disney company. An obvious misrepresentation of the characters re-contextualizes the artwork, creating something new. It would be pretty easy to see that it's a third party shirt, and even if it were to perfectly replicate Disney's style, checking the tag would quickly inform you that it's not the case. But copyright makes it so that the makers of the shirt might want to fake a Disney tag to pass it off as legit. The example I provided would pretty clearly be non-Disney but something like a simple smiling graphic of Donald Duck might not be so clear. Copiers can masquerade as the originators, Like you said, copyright law might incentivize it. Musicians can be surprisingly hostile. For example, Radiohead suing Lana Del Rey over a chord progression. A little over the top, but maybe they just wanted the credit. We live in a system where noting your influences isn't as easy as it should be. It's hiding your web of influence, as if it's something to be ashamed of. I'd rather wear my influences on my sleeve and make what I want to make. From any angle, they're laws from the 70s that need an update for the internet. Hope this wasn't too long and convoluted. Nice video.

Rhods_ : you are good at art and talking about it!

L'Etre Supreme : I don't 100% agree with total abolition (under Capitalism, once that's gone 10000000% yes) but a SEVERE shortening would be good. Most money is made immediately at publication and then dwindles. So copyright should reflect this. A 1 year copyright would probably be the most appropriate period. The only peole this would really affect are products which are really succesful, in which case they already made tons of money, and art which has a spike in purchases after a year. But if there was a spike the only people who are selling would be the artist since if it was unsucceful in the beggining no one would care enough to sell it.

Spite Goblin : #DefendTrickleDown

99bit : Absolute garbage. In some hypothetical post-scarcity socialist, moneyless future, sure. There would be no need for copyright. But in the here and now, copyright is the only thing protecting the small, independent artist from conglomerates like Disney, Warner Bros., et al. In a world without copyright, large corporations would use the material advantages to simply trawl the internet for any content they didn't make, and then repackage it and sell it in the form of compendiums, say for example 10,000 Sci-fi short stories for $1. They would be able to use their wealth and resources to out advertise the original creators and undersell the product. What comfort is it then that I could take Mickey Mouse and do something artistic with it? Disney would just re-appropriate it. It's already hard enough to make any sort of living being an artist. The abolition of copyright would make it impossible.

Cosmos Comrade of 1984 : My comrade! I approve. But Richard Stallman needs more!

Dusty : I remember reading about a musician who didn’t work with publishers and donated all his work to the public domain because he didn’t want other people making money off his work. After his death, a publishing company started claiming copyright on his work. If copyright is supposed to protect the little guy, it’s doing a terrible job.

Alice Bull : I really do not agree with this video, whilst I do think that if you've transformed a work you should be fine, what about huge companies changing small books into huge popular films? Are you saying the original author should just watch and not even get money out of it? What about the fact that in the set community that I'm an intimate part of companies will straight up take people art and use as branding or on tshirts, without the artist getting anything. (Often the artist will even be accused of copying themselves!) I don't think you adequately addressed this to convince me

SleepyDegu : I think this is a difficult subject for artists - I only know from an illustration/comic angle, and no one can really agree whether selling fanart is ethical or not. (Personally, I believe it's pretty cut and dry - fanart is fine, direct copying is not.) In a world where we thrive just on ideas and not on money, then yes, I wholeheartedly agree. But EVERYONE I know has had their artwork stolen at some stage - we're all indie artists, and in the most egregious cases, an artist's work is stolen *as is* by a large company, then mass produced with no recompense or acknowledgement for the original creator. Only the artist's small band of followers notice that the work is stolen. Is that artist supposed to roll over and say, well, all ideas are free, this is fine, I'll just make something new (that they can steal again later)? Sending a cease and desist has been their only recourse. If Sita Sings the Blues was published by a smaller company/person with less reach, and a bigger company took a copy of the film, stripped the credits, and monetized it, how would you feel? This happens to illustrators all the time. Stands at conventions sell prints and copies of other people's art, with NO crediting or funds being sent back to the creators - with the stall holders pretending the artwork is their own. Buyers don't know it's not official, and if the artists themselves couldn't take legal action, there would be nothing they could do. I'm not saying the current system isn't broken and unfair - it totally is and should be reformed, especially for musicians and creators on youtube - but until a better system comes along, abolishing it completely would severely damage smaller artists. I hate this phrase as it's so often used against me, but "in an ideal world" copyright would be unnecessary. But I don't think we're there yet.

SeanNaut : Nina Paley is also unfortunately weirdly transphobic.

Jaspertine : Nice, I just found the perfect soundtrack to all my lovely new hate speech videos. Thanks for being so generous.

Frosty : Good video! This is so succint and gives all the major arguments as to why copyright is just. Abysmal for art. And I'm gonna show it to some of my art friends for sure! Thank you for taking up the mantel as face of the copyright abolitionist movement since Nina's a terf (Yuck.)

Ray Cesmat : It’s a common truism that people are scared of change but I think the other side of that coin that’s just as true and maybe more bracing is that people are scared of the idea that things aren’t already working as well as they could. You see it all the time in almost every type of sociopolitical discourse to undermine the very fabric of the discussion, to try to undercut the foundation of any exchange of ideas - countries that have attempted to transition into communism have, historically, struggled, and so capitalism must be The Best We’ve Got. It’s legitimately upsetting to think about how that mental sinkhole is so vast, because i don’t think there’s anyone who’s having these conversations in good faith that doesn’t want the world to be better for virtually everybody in it other than the relative few who currently monopolize it’s power. We can only start figuring out how to move toward a better version of this world by looking those issues in the eye, whether or not we come to the table with the answers in hand already. That’s what this video makes me think of, anyway. The idea that copyright law could somehow manage to do almost nothing it was intended to do, less now than ever especially, is so hard to get people on board with, I think, because to let that idea be presupposed demands you take stock of a lot of other ugly ideas, about the dysfunction of nearly all western governments, about the way capitalism shapes our society, and about how easily we’ll accept the ideas put in front of us as long as there’s ostensible authority behind them. Like someday there’s going to be a huge annotated history of the way “piracy” was framed by people in power and, in retrospect, I think it will strike people as madness that it was ever believed to even resemble stealing.

Fish Toe : Good vid eric <3 only complaint is that sometimes title cards lingered a bit. Best video I've seen on the subject for sure

Zelkiiro : I heard that melody from the Death Note soundtrack. I have nothing creative to add to this, I was just making a banal observation.

Noah Black : I'm broke but why don't you have a Patreon yet?

Non AutomateData : Every single human expression ever expressed was build upon other human expression how in earth can someone just not see that? I totally think voluntary contribution is the way to transition between f ca pital$m and a really awesome human society not yet to be seen.

R. Diaz : Really enjoyed this, especially after writing a lot of code that piggybacks off of open source libraries & software. Curious about one thing, though: What if an artist wants to produce an artwork where the existence of only a single copy is a key part of the aesthetic experience? I'm assuming the copyright abolitionist would say something like "No such artworks should exist," but isn't that also closing off certain avenues of expression? Not sure how I feel about that yet.

Kamila Kołodziej : Calling her TERF is nasty of you, she is not transfobic. This is her statement: "A few years ago, when I shared this article about Caitlyn Jenner and another one about Rachel Dolezal, many angry liberal friends called me “transphobic,” and told me to “educate myself.” They apparently didn’t know I had spent many years deeply involved in various queer scenes in San Francisco, and had trans friends, and was gender dysphoric myself (it resolved in my mid-20’s, which is not unusual.) Since I couldn’t “educate myself” much more on trans people and queer theory." Please call out people who are real danger for trans people - agressive men. Not women who have slighty different opinion than queer theory preaches.

lordrotarec : I like your videos, but please educate yourself and don't buy into this fauxfeminist term "TERF". Attacking radical feminism is the greatest and most ignorant leftwing debacle I've ever seen.

kewl d00d : I was so happy when I heard Oneohtrix Point Never in this video

Eric Taxxon : I think you're making a really good point here. I was skeptic first, but now I realise that copying is not theft.

A l l e g e d l y TM : Screaming at the Contra reference!!!

John Macintosh : I agree

Dan of No Stand : Why do you disable your audience from seeing your video ratings?

Dalton Bedore : this is pretty extreme...left? right? idk its just extreme. but interesting to talk about

YxngStalin : copyright is a bad idea but it's almost a good idea under capitalism under capitalism kept going and made everything worse

Lezrleia : A lot of this video hinges on the arguments a) that without copyright people would feel free to credit sources as they would have nothing to fear from legal action and b) after sources are credited people will go find more work by those sources. The two claims are contradictory, because people have something to gain by plagarising, and the original author has no legal recourse against them. We can see this with the issues around image crediting on the internet. Artists want their work shared and are often okay with it going viral, but we still see the name credit scrubbed, and people often have no idea who the original artist was.

Lezrleia : I kind of think that Eric is predicting that we abolish copyright into a post-capitalism utopia. Like if I were a huge company I would be like great, I'll just own the things that people need to experience art, and not contribute anything to the creation of art. It's already so hard to make money as an artist with huge industries hiring hundreds of artists, and the law already disproportionately protects the rights of big companies. Like the Sita model is so hard already, and involves making a very small budget go very far. The 30 year timeframe really seems a much better model than abolishment or the current system.

toottoot toot : why's contrapoints there when she is

Shinigami Soul : I think this ideia is dumb. Specially if you think of Copyright of inventions or technics that could cost millions of dollars to develop which would make companies not want to make the investiment because rivals would profit with it, and not spend a penny. That would break the incentive to innovation.

Ashley Nelson : "but also she's a TERF" my heart skipped a beat you can't hit me with that kind of whiplash

Primeval Celestial Carcass! : good vid, kinda wish you hadn't mentioned that shithead nina paley so much though :(

sportsracer48 : As a copyright abolitionist since 10th grade: thanks.

Kljunas : I agree with pretty much everything but I'm still not quite sure it would work (in the current economic system at least). I feel that big companies with a lot of resources would just grab work from other people and make most of the profits by dominating the market. I don't want e.g. Disney to be able to profit off of people's work at their expense by aggressively driving them out of the market and leaving them unable to recoup their investment. Like it worked for a niche $290,000 movie but would it work for a $2.9M movie? $29M? I'd rather lower the duration of copyright way down (less than 28 years probably) but I think there should still be this period when an artist can profit from their work without parasites sweeping in.

Amanda Graven : Great video! Thanks for articulating a lot of gut feelings about copyright for quite a while.

majazinga : ok but ive literally seen people sell prints and shirts of other peoples art without the artist having any say or get any profit from it

Naomi Brist : THANK YOU! I finally found someone else who thinks copyright is shit. I also think that a good argument for abolishing copyright is to point out existing public domain works. There's a billion and one different versions of Sherlock Holmes (although *some* of his stories are still copyrighted?!), and Disney's whole brand, the giant soulless, demonic monolith that is Disney, is built off of public domain works like Grimm's fairy tales (or hey they did a mouse version of Sherlock Holmes). The cultural milestone that is Disney (but i hate them) is proof of the awesomeness of public domain. It's also worth mentioning that Disney is responsible for making copyright laws worse because they are shitty and hypocritical....Also when people make the argument that people won't make art if there's nothing protecting their IP, well...fanfiction writers, a heck of a ton of YouTubers, people who make fan films. These people are already expending a lot of time and energy to make something for free (and it has to be free because of F---ing COPYRIGHT LAW) so clearly creativity isn't actually governed by copyright. Creativity exists beyond copyright and always will. Add to that the fact that most fanfic I've read is distinctly better than anything DISNEY has put out in years and, well, copyright is clearly shit made for shitty rich people with no talent.

Christian Stout : I'm unconvinced, to say the least.