This afternoon, you can watch me on TechTV’s The Screen Savers. Then tonight, I head into the DNA Lounge in San Francisco to defend your right to free speech and parody on the Internet as I go toe to toe with Barney in a celebrity boxing match brought to you by the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Chilling Effects project.
If you’re in or near San Francisco, and your value your rapidly diminishing rights of free speech and free expression, I encourage you to come and check it out.
However, if you can’t be there, for whatever reason, here is a copy of the speech I’m giving tonight.

“Copyright law is a good idea. It allows actors, writers, and musicians to create and own intellectual property, and hopefully derive a living from their creations.
As an actor and writer, I have a personal stake in making sure that Copyright law is enforced. If I can’t own the works I create, then I can’t feed my family.
The music labels, publishing houses and studios who release our creative works would have you believe that unless we strengthen copyright laws, their clever euphemism for eroding your rights to parody and free expression, all artists will suffer.
Don’t you believe them. As a negotiator for the Screen Actors Guild, I have firsthand experience with these men who claim to care so greatly for artists, and I call shenanigans. The greatest danger to musicians is not Gnutella. It is the label. The greatest danger to actors and film makers is not DeCSS. It is the studio. These corporate masters care little for the artists who are filling their 4 car garages with new Porsches and filling their private jets with fuel and “hostesses.”
What they do care about is controlling how you listen to music, or watch movies, and, increasingly, how you discuss and react to our creations.
Copyright law was best described as “a balance between expression that the owners can control and expression that is left open to the commons.”
Right now we are facing the complete destruction of that delicate balance. Corporations, and their congressional lap dogs, are doing everything in their power to ensure that the “expression left open to the commons” is forever removed, leaving only “expression the owners can control.”
That is a truly terrifying statement, which bears repeating: “expression only the owners can control.”
Do you want your freedom of expression controlled by a studio, record label, or multi-national corporation? Do you want Sony’s goons kicking in your door because you dare call Shakira SUCKira? Do you want Paramount to have the right to tell you that you can’t write that Star Trek fan fiction you’ve been working on while your wife is asleep? You know, the one where you’re the captain and Counselor Troi is giving you a “special session?” Do you want Best Buy telling you that you’re a criminal for expressing, on your website, your opinion that, “Best Buy sucks?”
Of course we don’t. We all value our freedoms of expression and our rights to satire and parody. Can you imagine a world without “The Onion,” or “Satirewire?” Area Men everywhere would be slienced. I don’t want to live in that world.
Corporations know that they’re wrong. They rightfully fear the Internet, and those of us who know how to use it. They don’t like it when we step outside of the narrowly defined, consumer culture they’ve created for us.
They have seen “expression left open to the commons” running counter to “expression that the owners can control,” and rather than respect our rights, they are working feverishly to destroy that all-too-delicate balance.
Corporations regularly abuse copyright law to silence dissent. Best Buy, Wal*Mart and Starbucks have all sent Cease and Desist letters to angry consumers who feel that they’ve been ripped off, and, like me, taken their case to the public via the Internet.
So they are shoving money at congress, and sending lawyers after us.
Our fundamental rights are under attack by a terrified cabal of corporate monsters, who have bought and paid for the DMCA and CARP, and I say that the erosion of our rights stops right here, right now.
I will continue to parody public figures and cherished icons.
I will state, on my website, in 100 point flashing red type on a blue background: “Barney sucks! Best Buy sucks! Sony Sucks! Microsoft sucks, Bill Gates is the anti-Christ and John Ashcroft can kiss my ass!”
I will promote artist’s rights. I will educate, enlighten, and empower. I will write, call, FAX and email congress.
Copyright Law is not a tool of repression granted to an unaccountable corporation by a corrupt congress at the expense of an ignorant public.
It exists to protect and promote artists. Don’t ever forget that.
Tonight, we are ignorant no longer, and as ignorance goes, so goes complacency. The EFF has created an online library where you can research your rights, at chillingeffects.org. Get online, get educated and get involved.
Individually, we can get angry. Together, we can, and will, make a difference.”

152 thoughts on “H.”

  1. As far as copyright goes, it can be fucking stupid. An indigenous artist from my country (New Zealand) isn’t allowed to sell copies of her cd in Germany, because they patented her own name!! Can someone PLEASE explain to me how on earth it is possible some git can patent someone’s first name? My name is MINE. How can someone else tell me what I can and can’t do with my own frickin name? Sorry for the rant. Intellectual property aside, as with everything else, it can be taken to idiotic pathetic extremes.
    On another point, if record companies didn’t charge so damn much for cd’s, people wouldn’t burn them. Up to $35 in this country for new release cd’s, so if people don’t want to pay that, they will download from Kazaa [or anywhere else they can] for free. When put in that way [which I agree is simplistic] it makes sense.

  2. You manipulative, mind-altering, cult-creating bastard.
    I hope you took your orange stuff with you to screen savers or your tent’s gonna smell like the urine of a man with mighty blisters (on his feet).

  3. You go, Wil! And MUCH props to you, my homey, for naming your last two entries after Tool songs! I didn’t even know you liked them (but I should have figured). Am I the only one who caught on to the Tool thing?

  4. Hmmmmmmm……..
    Just scrolled up and realized someone else saw the Tool thing, too. BTW, I am a lawyer and I have NO idea what is going to come of this copyright issue.

  5. Wil must be listening to Aenima a lot lately. It’s also nice to see a celebrity as passionate as he is about things and taking action, and not for the publicity.

  6. Wil,
    Just saw you on The Screen Savers! You rock! You did a great job, you were so well spoken, and funny as hell as usual!
    Jen :)

  7. I saw you on tech TV. Very cool speech, and it was good to hear that somebody’s fighting the corporations. I’ve got a debate tomorrow in school (Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA) about whether or not the DMCA is ethical or not. I’ll make sure to reference you when I quote you. Very cool.

  8. As a former car and home audio sales associate, I believe that Congress has been misled into thinking that the Digital Millenium Act would support performers. I must admit that I am a very serious political conservative and I STILL think that this law is flawed. I am a big believer in sharing, and I also like your idea for an alternative revenue stream for performers. I hope that the industry will figure this out; it’s Hollywood paranoia that has relegated the Internet into simply another advertising method, and it’s the fear of “piracy”(ahem) that has put a major wrench in the High-Def TV movement. To be so paranoid as to assume that the American public will do nothing but sit and copy every TV show, and then pass these perfect copies to everyone, cutting Hollywood out of the profit stream, is just outrageous. (In reality, it is actually easy for someone who knows what is involved to make a good clone; there is nothing available at Circuit City that gives the everyday VCR user this ability no matter how much the industry believes it!)
    Well, thanks for giving me a forum, and I hope I can help you out in your cause to blow the DMA out of the water!

  9. Dammit.
    If I didn’t hate driving into SF, I’d SO be there.
    Hrm. Maybe I can finagle some chauffeuring. Mwuahahahahahahahahha
    Copyright laws bug me when I need to read a book, and I don’t have it in hardcopy, and I look for it on the inter-net, and I can’t find it because of reallyreallyreally long-lived copyright/public-domain laws.
    And they put ketchup on my burger…

  10. Bravo Wil,
    I think its wonderful that you truly believe in your principles and have the balls to stand up to the ‘Yes men’. As a Brit, I sometimes dont understand American politics and the like, (probably the same with British politics to the non Brit).
    I know I’m stepping on dangerous ground mentioning politics, but with your devotions to your principles, (a very good thing btw)and the rights of your fellow man, have you ever thought for running for government? It could be an excellent career move.

  11. It’s going to be an awesome speech! and, btw…i really like the fact that you’ve titled two articles in a row after tool songs… keep up the good work :)

  12. http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/entertainment/music/3471088.htm
    Copywright laws are a joke, and it will become apparent to everyone in a couple of years that art (music, movies, t.v.) will become all one and there’s nothing that you or anyone can do about it.
    I quote David Bowie in the article that I will leave at the end of the quote:
    “I don’t even know why I would want to be on a label in a few years, because I don’t think it’s going to work by labels and by distribution systems in the same way,” he said. “The absolute transformation of everything that we ever thought about music will take place within 10 years, and nothing is going to be able to stop it. I see absolutely no point in pretending that it’s not going to happen. I’m fully confident that copyright, for instance, will no longer exist in 10 years, and authorship and intellectual property is in for such a bashing.
    “Music itself is going to become like running water or electricity,” he added. “So it’s like, just take advantage of these last few years because none of this is ever going to happen again. You’d better be prepared for doing a lot of touring because that’s really the only unique situation that’s going to be left. It’s terribly exciting. But on the other hand it doesn’t matter if you think it’s exciting or not; it’s what’s going to happen.”

  13. Barbrady: Okay, Recording Industry, do you accept this declaration of Shenanigans?
    Recording Industry:Wha?!
    Barbrady: Well that settles it. Everybody grab a broom! It’s Shenanigans!!

  14. ~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^
    WIL!! Kick Barney’s butt!! I gotta get out the dictionary to understand what you wrote. That’s my flaw. Not understanding things the right way. Anyway, I’m watching you on ST TNG right now. You’re trying to get Riker, Data, and Worf out of the novel hologram-like planet. Go get ’em. L8rs!! ~~*Gooniegirl*~~

  15. Wil,
    I find that I’m agreeing with you once again. This chills me to my conservative soul. The first film I ever made in high school was a spoof of Star Trek. Without parody, we wouldn’t have Mel Brooks movies. So keep on speaking.
    However as to your corporate and political diatribe at the end I must disagree somewhat. If I had a website I would agree that Barney sucks. So does Sony. Larry Ellison is my personal Anti-Christ, Oracle sucks instead of Microsoft(own a share or 2, sorry) and Bill Clinton & the Mrs. can kiss my ass.
    take care,

  16. you’ve been sigged!

    “Barney sucks! Best Buy sucks! Sony Sucks! Microsoft sucks, Bill Gates
    is the anti-Christ and John Ashcroft can kiss my ass!” — Wil Wheaton

  17. I must say I hated the Wesley character but find that you seem to be a very smart guy. This speech is very well done.

  18. Some great points there, I wish I lived in San Fransisco and could watch. I like the use of humor, well written!

  19. Like so many I have discovered this site thru someone who is a rabid fan and have joined the ranks of slobbering fangirlness. I liked Gordie, Wesley and love ST:TNG. I have been reading the archives from the beginning and have gotten as far as Mid Feb ’02. But I’ve been checking the current page as well. I’m so glad I did or I would have missed your funny, well-spoken and endearing appearance on Screensavers tonight. I made my hubby tape it watched it twice and then watched it again when I realized they were re-running it ar 12:30am. I am behind you 100% as far as your support of the EFF and being against “The Man” and the corporate tyrants that run our lives these days. I agree with you especially on supporting musicians because so many of my friends are struggling musicians. Once again you prove what I already figured out, you are too cool for words!

  20. just got back from the fight. Those of you who weren’t there, you missed out. pictures are up if you know how to find them…

  21. Wil,
    Sorry. But my daughter absolutely hates your guts. It’s all my fault and I’m not sure there is anything I can do about it.
    You see, we were watching Barney last night(shudder) and I, trying to be funny, mentioned to her that there was a good possibility that Barney would be killed.
    My daughter is 3. You never, never joke about the demise of one of her TV icons. Never! But I did. And I had some explaining to do. She gave me the horrified 3 year old glare.
    So, to make matters worse, I tried to explain to her that Wesley and Barney were going to have a fight and there was a very good likelihood that Barney would be no more.
    She looked at me with her frightened eyes. ‘Why?’
    “Well,” I said, “sometimes disagreements happen between purple dinosaurs and young ensigns and they can’t be peaceably resolved.”
    “Why?” She asks again, this time tears are beginning to form in her eyes, and I can tell I’m headed for the ‘why’ hell that can be any conversation with a 3 year old. No answer will suffice.
    “Well, they are fighting over something they disagree on.” I offer lamely. I can see she isn’t buying it and is getting more upset. But for me to try to tell her it’s not really going to happen would be a lie and totally confuse her at this point. My hesitation causes her to interject again with…
    “Why? Wesley shouldn’t do that. That’s not nice. I hate Wesley.” She starts to cry and I offer my feeble support and feel horrible for what I have done.
    There is nothing I can say. She has made up her mind. She hates Wesley. And it’s all my fault.
    I have many years to correct my error, if I ever can. She will eventually grow out of Barney and rethink her hatred of Wesley, but I hope she never looses the ability to ask why or question the need for violence.
    I learn many new things everyday from her. And I’m sure in the years ahead I will learn many more.
    Ps: I didn’t see the fight, but I hope you whooped that purple abominations sorry ass!!!

  22. Lursxt asked:
    I play in a cover band where we perform songs by artists other than ourselves and get paid for it. Is that copyright infringement? How does playing in a cover band fit into the scheme of things?
    So I answer: If I remember correctly, Lursxt, what you and your band do does not constitute copyright infringement. If you were lip-synching to a tape of the original band and getting paid for it, that would be infringement. If you were saying that you wrote those particular songs, and receiving money for the writing of them, that would be infringement. In this situation, the only things that can be copyrighted are a) the actual written sheet music, and b) the specific performance that is on the original CD or tape. That’s why if you were lip-synching and getting paid, it would be infringement. In fact, as long as you got permission from the original writer of the song to record your own copy, the original writer would not then be able to sell your recorded performance and make money off of it. They make money from the licensing fees, but the recorded performance is yours and yours alone. Just the act of recording it copyrights it- the performance, not the song itself. Have I confused you enough? Anyway, Wil, as I am in an original band myself, I highly value copyright laws. Hopefully one day we’ll make enough money from our songs that we can quit our day jobs and do music full-time. Until then, dear, thank you for defending us starving artists and our works! :)
    Love, Alicia
    P.S. You can listen to some of my band’s *copyrighted* songs on our website- come visit! :)

  23. Wil,
    You had me until the Shakira part… bad Wil, take a time out and think about what you said ;-).
    Other than that, Amen and ditto.

  24. Sounds good, but what specifically are you talking about? I’d love to know how Walmart, etc. is abusing copyright law to stifle dissent. I honestly have not heard a single peep along these lines until now. Have you got examples? I’m slightly skeptical but not beyond convnincing.
    Also, is there some BILL about to be introduced into Congress that’ll take away the right of parody? Right now, parody is protected by Copyright law, at least the last time I checked. That novel, THE WIND DONE GONE (dealing w/characters from Gone With The Wind), avoided a preliminary injunction based on the theory that it was parody (though I don’t buy the argument that it really is a parody), so there’s your evidence that parody is still protected.
    Reason for my skepticism:
    First, I’m a lawyer and I constantly see people mistate out of misunderstanding, legal issues (the worst offender is the New York Times, which almost ALWAYS mistates the legal principles invovled in Supreme Court cases. Those articles are painful to read. Why don’t they get a lawyer to write those articles?).
    Second, it’s just that so far the people I’ve heard complain about this sort of thing are people who love to steal software and movies and music off the net and get mad when companies take steps to prevent it. One woman at a party I had recently was complaining that Bill Gates is Big Brother and the new Microsoft video software was monitoring what we all watch. I asked her just exactly what it does and she said, “It stops you from watching copyright protected movies on the net.” I said, “So,” and she said, “Well I watched the Scooby Doo movie for free on the net from some pirate site. And it sucked. I shouldn’t have to pay to see that crap.”
    This, to me, is the very definition of uncompelling logic. Spock would have raised both eyebrows and Data’s neural net would have gone into an endless loop.
    Note: If some parody-preventing law was passed it would be promtply struck down as violating the First Amendment anyway. One thing this Supreme Court has been vigilent about is Free Speech.
    Note: Be careful not to confuse copyright with trademark. I thought that when Disney years ago sued a kindergarten for painting Mickey Mouse on its wall (for TRADEMARK infringement), that Disney was an evil s.o.b. BUT THEN I went to law school and learned that if you do not enforce your trademarks you can LOSE THEM. That is, if Disney lets X and Y paint Mickey on their walls because X and Y are nicey-nice schools doing goody-goody work, and THEN decides to sue Z who’s selling Mickey painted on lunch boxes to make a gazillion bucks, the COURT will say – no dice Disney – you’ve lost your rights to Mickey by letting X and Y use him. Mickey has been released to the public.
    Note: Trek Fan Fiction is allowed only because Paramount has apparently decided to let it exist, at least where people aren’t cashing in on it. For the entire history of copyright law it’s been a violation to take someone else’s well-rounded well-developed characters and make your own story out of them, UNLESS it was a true parody. So if I published “The Adventures of Wesley Crusher and the Enterprise F” (and it wasn’t some Wesley-bashing parody) I could be sued for it easily. This is nothing new. If, in the year 1900, I’d written a Sherlock Holmes story of my own, Arthur Conan Doyle could’ve sued me for it (by today his copyright has expired so I’d be in the clear). The law on that has not changed.
    So if Paramount decided to come down on fan fiction (true fan fiction, not parodies) that would represent a change of attitude on Paramount’s part, but NOT a change in copyright law.
    The day Mad Magazine’s parodies of movies and tv shows mysteriously vanish is the day I’ll begin to believe there’s some real threat.
    (p.s. – I’d push that Enterprise F idea; the current show is a washout (Trip Tucker notwithstanding, but he can’t carry a whole series alone), especially given the way they repeat each episode about 4 times a season).

  25. Note to Lurxst and the Wagband. This is offtopic but I just have to straighten this out.
    Playing cover songs IS infringement unless you pay a certain amount to ASCAP for it. A musical recording is protected so when you perform, say, a Red Hot Chili Peppers song, you infringe the copyright on that recording. Because you “copied” that recording with your performance you’ve violated their copyright (which IS the right to copy). This is pretty standard. ASCAP has a mechanism set up just for this very thing.
    The chances that any record company or band will CARE enough to go after you is virtually nill, however, unless you get to be really, really big.
    The musical score is also protected separtely from the recording, so there’s two copyrights in each recorded song.

  26. The interview was great. Good luck with the big purple moron. Even my daughter can’t stand him. :) I would greatly appreciate it if you give a few extra kicks for us.

  27. I left the sane confines of Canada to make a 5 day trip to Boston. I ducked into a comic book store for some solitude, and I heard a voice, yes I said a voice, calling me from the back of the store, and there I found a Wesley Crusher MIB. I liberated him, came home from the airport with him under my arm, only to find out that the poor guy had been cut from the film. WHAT THE HECK ARE THOSE GUYS THINKING!!!???
    Anyway, I’m really really ticked. So I hope you beat that silly dinosaur to a pulp, I need the tension release!!

  28. “I will state, on my website, in 100 point flashing red type on a blue background: “Barney sucks! Best Buy sucks! Sony Sucks! Microsoft sucks, Bill Gates is the anti-Christ and John Ashcroft can kiss my ass!”
    So, where is it Wil?

  29. I was just about to say, I wanted to see pics of last nights event when I saw Roberts post!
    Very cool! :)

  30. Seem slike you have your font set for about 6pixels, but on a high res screen that is very small. I’ve bumped the size up to 20px to be a
    readable size – but then the lines overlap.
    Think about your readers – if you don’t want
    your stuff read, then why print it in the first
    Try using ’em’ (let the user set his size.)

  31. Wheaton d. Shatner
    Los Angeles
    Wheaton d. Debbie Gibson
    Wheaton d. Barney
    San Francisco
    It all comes down to this…
    Guantanamo cage match.
    Exclusively on Pay-Per-View.

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