Derek Khanna & Co. Continue Attack on Artists Rights at SXSWi Panel

The recent SXSW Interactive panel titled “Copyright & Disruptive Technologies” was merely another single point of view attack on artists, musicians and creators as artists rights are copyrights. It’s interesting that this panel offered no differing perspective from the view point of the artists and creators whose work is actually being exploited, without permission (or compensation).

On the panel were those who are advocating for “Permissionless Innovation” including Andrew Bridges, partner at Fenwick & West LLP, Ben Huh, CEO of the Cheezburger Network as well as a trio from Yale Law School’s Information Society Project including Wendy Seltzer, Margot Kaminski and Derek Khanna.

Glen Peoples at Billboard reported on the ongoing unilog of the copyleft attack on artists rights. The panel presented the usual anti-artist, anti-creator maximalist talking points which don’t believe in the artists right to grant consent for the exploitation of their work (and in many cases don’t believe in granting the creator compensation as well).

We’ve previously pointed out in some detail that Derek Khanna is wrong while highlighting all of the obvious fallacies and self created myths in his disavowed RSC “memo” on copyright. Now it appears that Derek himself is confused over the who may have even requested the memo. As our reader Jonathan Bailey (@plagiarismtoday) noted,

“Right now, we know who wrote the paper, but not who requested it, what supervision it was under and who, if anyone, approved its publication. This is not an acceptable way to interject a work into the public discourse.”

The persistent use of the meme “permissionless innovation” might just as well be called what they want it to really be, “permission to steal, and profit with immunity.” There is nothing innovative about stealing from or exploiting artists. In fact it’s a very, very old narrative sadly.

Panelist, Ben Huh complained that it might actually cost him money to track down rights holders whose work he is profiting from, how unfair right? Ben says…

“The cost of tracking down the rights owner is a minimum of $300 to $500 [per image]– if you’re successful.

Of course Mr. Huh went on to illustrate his problem in not paying creators in greater detail stating,

I have 23 million images, and I’m one of the smaller [online businesses] out there.

Yeah, what a drag to actually compensate the creators! So in simple math 23 Million multiplied by $500 equals $11.5 trillion dollars. One might determine that perhaps this is not a well thought out business model that requires such vast capital to support it’s inventory, if the cost of that inventory actually requires payment to the creators. Here again we see another internet business supported by advertising that earns revenue on marginal costs, but refuses to pay the creators fair compensation for their labor.

Of course, the site does provide a DMCA link, but we have to wonder how many rights holders are actually using it.


What is clear is that the war on artists and creators which is now over a decade old continues to rage on by those who are profiting. Let’s once again be clear that this discussion is about money. It is about mass scale, enterprise level, commercial businesses profiting from the illegal exploitation of works by artists, photographers, musicians, filmmakers, authors and other creators.

Just for fun, we went over to Mr.Huh’s website Cheezeburger dot com to see why he would be so invested in the battle against artists rights. Well, as it turns out the first two items we saw were the products of well known and beloved mainstream creators (you know, the companies the copyleft hates but can’t seem to live without).

In this first screenshot below we see images from Fox Tv’s “King Of The Hill” show. What we also see is that Toyota, one of the already identified 50 Brands Supporting Music Piracy paying the bills to Mr.Huh. Good work if you can get it, being able to monetize content of a major TV network without the pesky need to ask permission or to share in that advertising revenue.


And, the second post we noticed were images from the Disney Pictures film “Up.” This time with advertising courtesy of Google and AT&T, also previously identified as two more of the 50 Brands Supporting Music Piracy.


And here’s the kicker from the man who doesn’t want to ask permission to monetize creators content for profit… hmmm… hypocrisy much?

(d) Pre-Approval Required. The license described in 1.1(a) above is contingent on you submitting all application-related materials that are requested by the Company and the Company subsequently approving your application. The Company may approve or reject your application in its sole discretion. The approval of your application by the Company shall not constitute an endorsement or legal review of your application.

But wait there’s more…

3. General Use of the Websites — Permissions and Restrictions
Cheezburger hereby grants you a revocable, non-transferable, and non-exclusive permission to access and use the Websites as set forth in these Terms of Service, provided that:
A. You agree not to distribute in any medium any part of the Websites, including but not limited to Content and User Submissions (each as defined below), without Cheezburger’s prior written authorization.
B. You agree not to alter or modify any part of the Websites, including but not limited to Cheezburger’s technologies.
C. You agree not to access User Submissions (defined below) or Content through any technology or means other than any as authorized by this Terms of Service or a written agreement between you and Cheezburger.
D. You agree not to use the Websites for any commercial use without the prior written authorization of Cheezburger. Prohibited commercial uses include, but are not limited to, any of the following actions taken without Cheezburger’s express approval:
1. Sale of access to the Websites, Content or services via another website or medium (such as a mobile application);
2. Use of the Websites, Content or services for the purpose of gaining advertising or subscription revenue;
3. The sale of advertising, on the Websites or any third-party website, targeted to the content of specific User Submissions or the Content;
4. Any use of the Websites, Content, User Submissions or services that Cheezburger finds, in its sole discretion, has the effect of competing with or displacing the market for the Websites, Content or User Submissions.

And it continues to go on from there into another set of rights, and restrictions. Wow. Ok then… well, so much for permissionless innovation afterall…