Who was the first person to tell a US President to legalize & why did Youtube disable the audio of my PTV Obama show?

Louis Armstrong - lifelong pot supporter and legalization activistLouis Armstrong – lifelong pot supporter and legalization activistI came across a book the other day that contained evidence for perhaps one of the first examples of anyone petitioning a US President to legalize cannabis.

Let me show you the quote:

“… he came to use marijuana on a daily basis, until the end of his life. He did not apologize for it. He told John Hammond, “It makes you feel good, man. It relaxes you, makes you feel wanted, and when you’re with another tea smoker it makes you feel a special kinship.” Later on he wrote President Dwight Eisenhower, saying that marijuana ought to be legalized. It was, he felt, certainly less harmful than alcohol.”
– Louis Armstrong – An American Genius, James Lincoln Collier, Oxford University Press, 1983 p. 221

Fascinating stuff!

Now imagine if someone took that quote down from an internet website claiming that Oxford University Press owned the rights to those words in that order and that I had infringed upon their intellectual property rights. That would suck, right? Don’t we have a right to this information? Should people’s intellectual property rights protect artists and writers from PARTS of their work being reproduced and shared or just from having their ENTIRE work reprinted?

It’s an interesting question. I myself think that people should just let everything that is upload-able just be free from all copyright and just get paid out of “packages” of information like the rights to the sales of a particular book or CD or DVD. I think fair use includes the right of scapegoats to catalog their cultural history in order to explain themselves and avoid genocide … call me crazy, but I think human rights are more important than intellectual property rights.

Which makes Youtube’s decision to disable the audio on my new High Society show so baffling. The name of the show is “Obama on Drugs & The Racist Drug War”. You can see the comments generated by the censorship by viewing the Youtube page here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmWajnZh8EE&feature=channel_page

You can watch the show without the audio disabled here:

High Society – Obama on Drugs & The Racist Drug War from Adam Glover on Vimeo.

http://blip.tv/file/2152525/
http://www.vimeo.com/4808611
http://www.veoh.com/browse/videos/category/activism_non_profit/watch/v185096956mgjRhzS

Youtube has a “http://www.youtube.com/t/howto_copyright” section, and says under it’s “What about fair use” subsection:

“It’s possible that you may be permitted to include small excerpts from copyrighted material in your video if what you intend to use is insubstantial or is incidentally included, or where the intended use you have for the copyrighted material falls within a exception or limitation to copyright under the law in your country.”

On Wikipedia’s “Fair Use” page it states:

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

       1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
       2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
       3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
       4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use

To make a long argument short, I feel that my Obama High Society show
a) is intended to save the world by helping to end the biggest and longest running war in the world and had nothing to do with making money (the show cost me much more to make than I would get paid by Marc or Marc would get paid by advertisers),
b) is taking from stuff that could be passed over a photo copier or captured on my computer screen and therefore is already in the public domain,
c) is taking bits and pieces of other works rather than reproducing those works entirely, and
d) is not going to devalue the original raw material but rather add to their importance, value and their ultimate worth.

Please follow those links and check out the show. I put lots of work into it and am very proud of it.

Feel free to copy it and sell hardcopies for cost on the street corner. Send your friends and family the links. And send the links to the White House at [email protected] – maybe if enough people do this Obama himself will watch the show … you never know!

And please, if you feel as I do that the show falls under “Fair Use” guidelines, let the folks at Youtube know by putting a comment on the Youtube showpage … but be polite about it.

David Malmo-Levine

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