thought thieves & micro$oft : no rights for film about rights

So Micro$oft has this film competition called "Thought Thieves." I saw a post on Nettime & thought I would look into it. The idea is that you make a completely original short film (45 seconds) that deplores the evil of sampling, the despicable act of satire, the sinful choice of sharing, the animalistic depravity of collectivity, the terrorist activities of P2P, so on and so forth. The "competition" is such a blatant propaganda tool for the might=right property lawyers & the hegemony of corporate lifeware that it would usually call for little comment. And I must admit, I like the way the top banner of their webpage reads: "MSN. Thought Thieves." I quote the image here:

However -- this would be trivial, save for its obvious contradictions of course, which need pointing out, methinks, but also the way in which it signals a trajectory of the increasing acceleration & elevation of the stakes concerning fundamental questions of property.

The website states that:

"Thought Thieves is about people stealing and profiting from your creation or innovation. Think about it: how would you feel if you saw your hard work being passed off as the property of someone else? What would you do?

We want to know!"

Right. So, we'll skip the obvious issues with creating a purely original film in content, form, intellectual property, and so on, as stipulated in the Terms and Conditions -- what I believe would be an ultimately (and essentially) impossible task. Moreover the term "thought thieves" itself seems stolen in its permutative homophony & conceptual inversion from Orwell's "Thought Police" (outta that little novel, 1984). And did M$ license the intellectual property rights for "film," "film competition," "prizes," "jury" ? Anyway.

On the more pragmatic level, in the Terms and Conditions, it specifies that the entrant must agree to the Release of Rights. The RoR specifies that:

"I will formally licence on terms acceptable to Microsoft, all intellectual property rights in my film and agree to waive all moral rights in relation to my film if requested to do so."

Ok. Let me get this straight. I make a short that brings hellfire on damnation on those evildoers stealing from other's work, and then I sign over all rights to this piece to MicroSoft?

I have no rights in negotiating these rights?

A film about the good of intellectual property rights requires me to waive my intellectual property rights?

You got it.

The best film, of course, would pinpoint M$ as the worst perpetrator of all.

But to continue:

Does MicroSoft pay me for the work ?


Does MicroSoft, in fact, reimburse any entrant for their work?


Does MicroSoft guarantee that they won't use your entered film for their own purposes?


Does MicroSoft, in fact, fairly compensate anyone nor guarantee the right of protection to any work submitted?


Who's the real thought-thief here? The answer is blatantly clear -- any kid is going to get it. One hopes. I just wanted to demonstrate how much I despise, in the terms of a basic and rather banal politico-legal analysis, the despotic regime of technology & control that MicroSoft embodies.

And also to publicize the lengths to which corporations strive to develop a controlling interest in the patterns of human play, creativity and art.

One can only hope that the winning kid is heartbroken when he realises his film becomes the propaganda centrepiece for M$'s latest "security" feature -- Palladium chip, whatever -- and gets zilch from the stratosphereic profits, vowing from that day on to avenge his betrayal through the unmitigated fury of full-spectrum sampladelia.

posted. Tue - May 17, 2005 @ 02:16 PM           |