Spreading the word on the Star Trek complaint

General discussions of interest to readers and fans of Harlan Ellison.

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John E Williams
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Postby John E Williams » Tue Mar 17, 2009 1:32 pm

I guess I'm naive, or just dumb, but I do not for the life of me understand why people -- okay, touchy message board nerds -- go into screaming rages when creative types demand their due when it comes to payment, whether it's from corporate conglomerates or from assholes illegally downloading files. It's one thing to not care, or hate Harlan Ellison and wish him ill, but to take such utter personal offense when an artist sues a large corporation is a reaction I simply do not understand. Just read the comments in the article posted by Josh Olson in the Pavilion to see what I mean. I am without speech.

(And Ezra, just in case, I am not referring to you. I've met you sir, you rock.)

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markabaddon
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Postby markabaddon » Tue Mar 17, 2009 1:50 pm

John, I think the anger you see on those boards is more a reflection of the polarization Harlan engenders in the science fiction community more than anything on the merits of the case itself.

The case itself concerns me. I may ask Charlie in St. Pete what he thinks about the merits of this case from a general legal perspective because on firs glance I am uncertain Harlan has a case. Now, the man does have a perfect track record on legal proceedings so I am inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt but I do question if a judge will rule that the chracater elements within the screenplay are proprietary to HE.

Not that I am not supportive of Harlan, or artist's rights, but I do wonder if taking on both a major studio and his own union might be too daunting a task even for him
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FrankChurch
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Postby FrankChurch » Tue Mar 17, 2009 2:02 pm

As I have already mentioned, corporations are hard to beat.

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Postby Alan Coil » Tue Mar 17, 2009 2:20 pm

Ezra Lb. wrote:I have a question which I frankly don't have the guts to ask in the other place. This question should not under any circumstances be interpreted as a criticism, just wondering.

Why now?

What's the current situation that's different from the way it's been for 40 years?


The Christmas ornament in question came out for Christmas in 2004. The books using his elements were just published recently, although I don't know the exact dates for those.

IIRC, the details of the books were brought to attention at the Pavilion in early 2007. As mentioned before, Ellison has been requesting Paramount to act on this situation for over a year.

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Postby Alan Coil » Tue Mar 17, 2009 2:23 pm

I see that the novels came out in 2006.

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Postby Moderator » Tue Mar 17, 2009 6:31 pm

In point of note, if you search "harlan ellison paramount lawsuit" (or some variation), you will find a number of references to "August 2008" when Harlan first approached Paramount and effectively said "make me whole".

They ignored him. The made lot o cash off the ornament and books, etc.

He's filed a lawsuit, as he said he would.
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FrankChurch
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Postby FrankChurch » Tue Mar 17, 2009 6:35 pm

Well, if Harlan wins, he should take us all to Pinks..lol

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Postby Moderator » Tue Mar 17, 2009 6:36 pm

I have to add to the sentiment of frustration regarding the artist versus the corporation. It's largely the same argument we've had repeatedly regarding copyright and stealing music/stories/etc.

There is obviously a sentiment in our society that artists do not deserve compensation. Consumers steal content, and get angry when the creator of that content objects. Corporations may pay for that content originally, but find every which way to prevent the artist from profiting from it in the long run (if at all possible).

(If you don't think this is true, I suggest you read the history of the WGA, SAG, AFTRA as they deal with the producers' alliance.)

Makes no sense to me, but again there are people on this board who will tell me it's all right to steal content from their "favorite" artists, so from an ethical standpoint what do I know???
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FrankChurch
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Postby FrankChurch » Tue Mar 17, 2009 6:44 pm

I don't steal music, I borrow it..hehe

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Postby Lori Koonce » Tue Mar 17, 2009 7:31 pm

FrankChurch wrote:I don't steal music, I borrow it..hehe



When is the last time you returned a piece of borrowed music Frankie.

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John E Williams
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Postby John E Williams » Wed Mar 18, 2009 7:20 am

markabaddon wrote:John, I think the anger you see on those boards is more a reflection of the polarization Harlan engenders in the science fiction community more than anything on the merits of the case itself.


Of that, I have no doubt. But I think there are people who hold creative types in deep contempt as a default, and the more outspoken or critical they are (for example Ellison, or Alan Moore) the greater the amount of vitriol. So the question for me has been: why all the hate? I think much of it is what Steve Barber says, that consumers resent being told by creators that they are stealing. Peter David is currently on the nerd-net shit list because of the perception that he helped take down a popular website that was hosting gobs of copyrighted material.

Going deeper (and I am typing this after several wasted hours of mulling over and discussing the issue, so don't mind me), I think it becomes for some people a matter of "ownership" on a really weird level. I read a book or listen to a song or watch a TV show or movie, and that book or song or show or movie comes to mean a great deal to me in a deeply personal way until it becomes a part of me, a part of my identity. I come to think of the thing as something I discovered, or uncovered, or have some connection with that nobody else has, and what disrupts that perception is when I am forced to acknowledge that a person who is not me actually sat down and created this very special item. So now I can go one of two ways: I am grateful to the artist and admire or look up to (or in some cases worship) them for what they have done for me, or I can resent them because they are laying claim to something I "own" -- ownership in this case meaning my deep sense of connection to the work. Or, more simply, I wish I had been the creator of said work and I am reminded that I am not, and I seethe with resentment and jealousy. (I told you I wasted hours thinking about this.)

I guess when Harlan Ellison comes along and claims in what I perceive to be a loud, obnoxious, selfish, petulant way that he and he alone created my beloved Guardian of Forever and my sweet, sweet Edith Keeler, my first reaction is to say "No you didn't create them. I did. I have watched the episode 15,000 times and read all the books and bought the Hallmark ornament and have invested years and hours of time loving City on the Edge and it's MINE I tell you, not YOURS you washed-up, ungrateful old sci-fi man, it's MINE MINE MINE."

I have no idea whether people really think this way, but there is evidence that they do.

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Postby Moderator » Wed Mar 18, 2009 7:44 am

JohnE -
Excellent post.

Just this morning I was reading an item quoting Ron Moore about fan reaction to the revamped Battlestar Galactica -- which I believe we can all now agree is somewhat better than its predecessor. He recounted going to a fan convention and literally being screamed at from the floor during Q&A.

It is a question of ownership. All around. Harlan is not saying he owns the characters, but he is saying that under the terms of his contract he is due some of the monies derived from them. This is an astoundingly simple concept, and I would lay easy money that were any of the naysayers confronted by such a theft of their own creative work -- good, bad or indifferent, I would bet more than a few of them have engaged in some artistic endeavor -- they would squeal like a stuck pig.

I recently had to whack the hand of a dear friend who used one of my photos without permission or attribution. This person immediately corrected the oversight -- but then went on to say that they had used the picture without realizing who the artist was, and thought they had gotten it from a free download photo site.

I gently explained that even if it was from a free download site, I imagined the photographer would appreciate attribution. This surprised my friend -- who is an accomplished artist themselves. (I'm trying hard not to reveal too much to avoid embarrassing them if they see this.)

And if I have to explain it to someone who should understand the artist's rights, what chance do we have convincing someone who feels they are entitled to the music/writings/photos/art without recompense or so much as a "thank you" for the blood, sweat and tears of the creative types.


(BTW - Speaking of creative types, Brian Phillips posted links to Chuck Lorre's flash cards. If you haven't seen or read through them, they're worthy of some reading.)
- I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

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John E Williams
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Postby John E Williams » Wed Mar 18, 2009 8:09 am

Steve, as a graphic artist I constantly run into situations concerning photos that would curl your hair. People I've known who wouldn't download a music file on principle would (and have) cull the internet for a photo and not think twice about using it. Apparently there is something about the immediate presence and availability of photographs (right click-save) that creates a perception not unlike finding an object on the ground.

Or, to put it another way: a client of mine from the Navy asked me to "find on the internet" a good picture of Arlington Cemetery was bowled over when I suggested we instead walk out the door and stride about 50 yards to the actual Arlington Cemetery and take our own photo. His argument (besides an issue of time) was that the cemetery didn't "belong" to anyone and therefore a photo of it didn't either. "A drawing would be one thing," he explained as if to a four-year-old, "but you can't 'own' something that anybody can walk up and take a picture of."

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FrankChurch
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Postby FrankChurch » Wed Mar 18, 2009 8:14 am

I always use Barber's photos without his knowledg...

Bye.

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Ezra Lb.
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Postby Ezra Lb. » Wed Mar 18, 2009 8:23 am

I think the "Trekkie" point of view is pretty straightforward actually. Mr Ellison and other creators involved in the show should fall on their knees and praise the Great Bird of the Galaxy and the holy prophet Gene Roddenberry to have had the awesome privilege of being involved in the show. Any objection to being screwed over is seen as being ungrateful.

Also the show maintains a self-created patina of specialness apart from its being a TV show and any kvetching from aforesaid screwees reveals that the whole enterprise (get it get it) is a cash cow controlled by one of the faceless corporations that control all the other stupid TV shows.

Soooo.....I ask again....

Will the lawsuit prevent any of you from going to see the movie and thus tacitly if not explicitly supporting Paramount?
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