Can We Please Stop The False Dichotomy Of 'Creators' vs 'Consumers' When It Comes To Copyright?

from the false-dilemma dept

James Gannon, a Canadian IP lawyer who works closely with the recording industry, recently put up a post on Facebook in which he tries to separate the world out into consumers who want freedom and creators who want control. The problem is that this is a totally false dichotomy. These aren't two separate groups. Most people are both creators and consumers at the same time. The lines separating the two are also somewhat porous and meaningless. Yet, by setting up this fake "us vs. them" dichotomy, Gannon can effectively brush aside those who are against things like DRM as simply not appreciating art and to appeal to everyone's innate desire to be creative and artistic to make them feel like being against DRM is somehow dirty. Let's dig in a bit:
People who oppose protection for digital locks tend to see art and culture in the same light as they see mass-produced consumer goods.
Note how Gannon lumps together all of the folks who don't like digital locks and tries to "classify" them. And he does so in a way that makes them sound like Philistines. They look down on art. It's just a "mass-produced consumer good." Except, of course, that's not even close to true. Many of those opposed to laws giving overriding control to digital locks are content creators ourselves, who deeply value creativity and the content creation process. We just realize that digital locks often get in the way of that process. Gannon then goes on to basically repeat his first sentence over and over again in different forms, all with the intent of suggesting that people who don't like digital locks don't get art. They're boring engineers who like to (gasp!) tinker with things.
Artists tend to disagree with this view. Most musicians think their of their albums as more than a collection of grooves on a plastic disc. It's art, and it's an important part of our culture.
Ah, and here is the pure and beautiful artist, living above such petty worldly concerns about technology and how things work.

The problem, of course, is that these two "groups" are works of fiction. The simple fact is that almost everyone today is both a creator and a consumer, often at the same time. In fact, almost everyone I know who is seriously against DRM or mandating digital locks is a well-established content creator. But, at the same time, they're also vast "consumers" of content as well. That's because the best way to be a content creator is to also joyfully consume what others are doing -- to experience that overall culture and (perhaps, sometimes) to gain inspiration, motivation and revelation from those works. Pretending these are two separate groups of people does a disservice to the actual issues at play.

I can't think of anyone I know who is against DRM who looks at art as just some piece of plastic or "a toaster" as Gannon claims. Instead, I tend to see the opposite. I see people of all kinds who find inspiration from that creative work and want to share that inspiration with others, and build a cultural connections around those works. If the people against DRM didn't value the artwork itself, this wouldn't be an issue, because they wouldn't care so much.
The idea for copyright came out of that second line of thinking.
Well, no, actually, it didn't. The idea for copyright came from an attempt to actually grant more power to middlemen to limit certain forms of creativity. Gannon, it appears, is not familiar with the history of copyright. Of course, more modern copyright law was designed to "promote progress" for society as a whole. That still has nothing to do with recognizing the beauty of art over plastic goods and toasters. Copyright was never intended to be a one-sided tool for artists, but it was designed to benefit society as a whole. In fact, early copyright laws focused on improved learning and education, and often left out such wasteful things as pure artwork.
Quite honestly, people in that first group will probably never understand or support the notion of digital locks because they essentially don't see the point of any copyright at all. To them, an artist asking them not to copy their CD is no different than Ford telling them not to put their car in reverse.
No. It is not because we see it as no different from Ford trying to stop us from going in reverse, but because we recognize how it's actually limiting art and creativity, by limiting the cultural relevance and the ability to be inspired and to build off of that inspiration.
The idea of restrictions, any restrictions, on their use of something they bought is an unrivalled affront to their rights as consumers.
No, it's an unrivaled affront to the ability to create and build and share and experience culture which we appreciate and love.
Digital locks were developed as a response to this phenomenon. As more technologies were developed that allowed people to copy works on a massive scale, publishers, large and small, started coming out with digital locks to protect their artists' works and prevent unauthorized uses of their art.
Except, of course, this ignores the truth. Digital locks have never worked and will never work. They did absolutely nothing to "protect the artists' works" or to prevent unauthorized uses of their work. That's because once the lock was picked -- and it always gets picked -- it was available to everyone. What digital locks actually do harm, are the many legitimate users of that content who experience it and wish to do more with it, including building shared cultural experiences around it.
Remember, if there's one thing they hate, it's an artist who tries to control how her art might be used.
Uh, no. No one hates an artist because they try to control their work. They hate it when they are unable to actually do something useful or valuable with a piece of artwork, such as building their own artwork.
The laws you've been hearing about actually don't really concern themselves directly with digital locks themselves. Rather, it's those other technologies, the hacks and the cracks, that the government's bill is trying to outlaw. Just like copyright law makes it illegal to copy or modify a creative work, the bill would make it illegal to hack the digital locks that an artist may use to protect these rights.
If that were really the case, then the law would allow for exemptions for cases of fair use/fair dealing or when the circumvention occurs for totally non-infringing reason (such as archiving, transformative uses, security purposes, etc.).
It all comes back to the art-as-a-toaster point of view: laws that prevent people from doing whatever they want with creative works they purchased are fundamentally wrong, no exception.
Well, yes, laws that prevent people from doing things like that are fundamentally wrong. But it's not because of any "art-as-a-toaster" viewpoint. It's the opposite. It's because content creators know that they are both creators and consumers, and when part of that overall process is blocked, it harms the creativity side quite a bit.
So, what kind of consumer or creative works do you consider yourselves to be? Should artists be able to retain some control on how their works are copied or modified, even once they're sold?
And this is the crux of the article. He sets up this "beautiful pure artist vs. philistine tinkerer consumer" myth to make people identify with art, because, really, who doesn't love art? But, that very point is the reason why Gannon is so very, very wrong. Presenting those who are opposed to digital locks as being unappreciative of art has it backwards. If they didn't appreciate and value the art this wouldn't be an issue. They wouldn't care, because they wouldn't value it enough to care. They'd be off doing something else.

It's a shame that the recording industry and its lawyers want to turn this into an us vs. them situation. It's not. Plenty of people want to create a situation where there are wider opportunities for everyone acting as both creators and consumers, to really allow creativity to flourish. But you don't do that by locking up creativity and pretending that many of those creators don't appreciate art.


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    Ima Fish (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 8:54am

    "The problem, of course, is that these two "groups" are works of fiction."

    Actually, there are three groups. The consumers. The vast and powerful middlemen/copyright industry (Viacom, Disney, Sony, etc.). And lastly the artists who get screwed over by the vast and powerful middlemen/copyright industry.

    It's not us against them, artists versus customers. It's the vast and powerful middlemen/copyright industry fighting consumers and artists tooth and nail to enlarge their government granted monopolies.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 9:02am

    James Gannon, a Canadian IP lawyer...

    I guess conquering Hyrule and capturing the princess wasn't evil enough.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 9:04am

    "The problem is that this is a totally false dichotomy. These aren't two separate groups. Most people are both creators and consumers at the same time. The lines separating the two are also somewhat porous and meaningless."

    Respectively there are two groups.

    Those that supply content and get paid big, big bucks for doing so. Disney is a good example of this class.

    And, those who consume and/or supply very small amounts of content. Users and posters to Facebook is are a good example of this class.

    The two groups do not have the same interest in that big business is interested in making as much money as possible from their content and attempt to do so by any means while the posters in general to the likes of Face Book do not have the means of extracting as much revenue as possible from their offerings.

     

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      ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 9:55am

      Re:

      Respectively there are two groups.

      Those that supply content and get paid big, big bucks for doing so. Disney is a good example of this class.

      And, those who consume and/or supply very small amounts of content. Users and posters to Facebook is are a good example of this class.


      Bite me.

      I stopped D/Ling movies from iTunes once I realized I couldn't make snarky videos from them. Maybe that's not "art" by your standards, but a few of them got significant attention. And I'm an old man! These kids today expect to be able to remix and reuse, and I'm fully behind that. Hell, when I was a kid (pre 1978) it wasn't even a question. My music teacher taught us by having us imitate popular songs. My art teacher had us draw Federation and Klingon ships.

      Copying is learning.

       

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      Liz, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 10:03am

      Re:

      Those that supply content and get paid big, big bucks for doing so. Disney is a good example of this class.

      Disney consumed a lot of prior art to produce their supply. From Snow White to The Frog Prince. Nearly their entire catalog is made up of adaptations of someone else's work.

       

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    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 9:05am

    "These aren't two separate groups." ... "Yet, by setting up this fake "us vs. them" dichotomy"

    By setting up this "us -vs- them" he misdirects from the actual truth of the matter. Its not the artists that want this, its the copyright holders. There are three groups, artist, consumer, and copyright holders. He is trying to keep the middle men out of the discussion.

    "They look down on art. It's just a "mass-produced consumer good." Except, of course, that's not even close to true."

    One Name ... Britney

    "It's a shame that the recording industry and its lawyers want to turn this into an us vs. them situation."

    Let them it only alienates people further.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 9:27am

    Sounds like another Jew wanting control.

     

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    jilocasin, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 9:40am

    Bigger problem..... unauthorized uses

    Personally I think that there is a bigger problem than 'us vs them' or 'art vs toasters'. It's "...and prevent unauthorized uses of their art."

    Art and culture are like children, once we bring them into the world they are going to do what they want, regardless of what their parents would have wanted for them.

    You create art, you share, sell, display said art, the rest of the planet should have the right to do what they want with it. It doesn't matter if the restriction is to maximize the artists (or the middleman's) income, or their innate sense of taste. They shouldn't be allowed to dictate what other people do with it.

    If you sell a copy of a novel, the recipient should be able to read it, base another novel on it, write songs about it, or line their bird cage with it.

    If you sing a song, then other should be able to sing it, remix it, paint a picture about it, or use it to psychologically torment fundamentalist cult members hold up in their rural compound.

    If you paint a picture, then people should be able to film a movie about it, sing a song inspired by it, and if you sell it, use it as a dart board.

    I think there are two motivations for DCM and 'control freakery' that we're seeing. The first is the well understood 'maximize the money I can get' economic incentive. The other, perhaps more pernicious, is the desire to dictate what other people can do with your creation.

    As an artist of any type, once you have created your work, let it go. Only by letting it go can your art go on to have a life of its own.

     

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    darryl, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 9:43am

    "Most people are both creators and consumers at the same time" WRONG !!

    "The problem is that this is a totally false dichotomy. These aren't two separate groups. Most people are both creators and consumers at the same time. The lines separating the two are also somewhat porous and meaningless.

    What ?? you're joking right..

    "Most people are both creators and consumers at the same time".. WHAT... No really do you actually believe that ???

    Please explain, and list what you have created in terms of music, movies, books, that would be considered 'content'.

    You are a consumer, and a leach, why do you need to see others people's work to be able to do your own work.. Are you than bereft of idea's ???

    You think a movie producer watches lots of movies and says "wow, thats is a good idea, I will do that".

    Do you think he would not be able to create an original work without seeing another movie ?

    What a joke, this guys is totally right, and you Mike, sorry to say are way off base. It seems in this case you are just saying things for the sake of it..

    Anyone who thinks about your statement for a second or LESS will know your fundamental statement is totally wrong..

    But I guess it makes for good spin, and I dont know.. Someone might even believe you !!..

    But I expect most will think you've lost it on this one..

    Except your diehard fanboys...

    But really, each day you seem to ask us to swallow more and more wild rubbish that you just seem to make up out of nothing..

    Please, Mike you can do better than that,, or can you !!!..


    Where is that list of your 'creations'..

    So when I go to bitTorrent or some file sharing site, do I see thousands of file made up by "CONSUMERS" and not 'creators'.. ???

    NO, MIKE I DO NOT..

    And you dont either, so on what grounds can you make suck wild and wrong assumptions, and base an entire article on this massive misconception ?


    What would you think of this system Mike.

    Every movie or song that is made available is a 'one off' each file has a specific code as a hidden water mark, that cannot be removed.

    when you buy a song or movie online, you recieve A PERSONAL COPY of that file, with your OWN internal code in it, Identifying you as the owner of that COPY, (but not the copyright),

    IF, that file finds its way onto a file sharing site, or is being used by someone else.

    Then YOU are fined for illegal copying and distribution of that file. They fine you because your name is on that file.

    that means if there is no DRM to break, and that you are liable if that file is used illegally.

    No one else will be fined except you, and you will be fined for each illegal copy found.

    So if you put a million copies of that file (with your name on it, hidden), and you are caught. You pay for each copy downloaded.

    Its a system that could be implemented easily, and it would ensure that the file are used for their intended purpose and not for illegal purposes.

    Would you like that system Mike, making the person who is illegally file sharing solely responsible for his crime ?

    But to say everyone is a content creator is wrong, and you should damn well know that by now.. You claim to have knowledge of copyright history, yet your claims are wrong as to why copyright was created..

    Misleading, to confirm your story, trouble is the truth tells a different story.. What do you say about that ?

    (that everyone else is wrong, history is wrong and Mike is right ??).. sure.. we'll believe that one..

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 9:53am

      Re: "Most people are both creators and consumers at the same time" WRONG !!

      you just replied to content Mike created you dufus.

       

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      Jason, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 10:13am

      Re: "Most people are both creators and consumers at the same time" WRONG !!

      I draw and I buy drawings, my uncle writes music and creates his own cd's, Mike makes blogs, my fiance paints and decorates her houses, we all make things and we all buy things.

      DRM/Copyright is a new idea originally ment to help small upstarts get going, it was not ment for companies to use it to squash any competition.

      I don't care if you come up with an idea and try to sell it, if someone else can do the same thing faster and cheaper thats where my money goes, unless of course yours is of better quality then you get my money.

      The sooner copyright dies the sooner we can move on and really start creating art again.

       

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      DH's Love Child (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 10:25am

      Re: "Most people are both creators and consumers at the same time" WRONG !!

      You are a consumer, and a leach, why do you need to see others people's work to be able to do your own work.. Are you than bereft of idea's ???

      OK, I'm going to give you the same pop quiz that I always give people who think that all content is 'original'. Here you go:

      Name me 1 piece of music that is completely original. By completely, I mean that there is no part of it that could be identified as coming from any other piece of music. ANY.

      when you can successfully do that, I will consider your comments about originality to be almost credible.

      You think a movie producer watches lots of movies and says "wow, thats is a good idea, I will do that".

      Um, yes, yes I do. and even if they don't get their 'inspiration' from other movies, they get them usually from someone else's creation (book, play, etc...).

       

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        Hephaestus (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 11:17am

        Re: Re: "Most people are both creators and consumers at the same time" WRONG !!

        "By completely, I mean that there is no part of it that could be identified as coming from any other piece of music."

        Yoko Ono ... if you call her stuff music

         

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        hipslikebattleships, Aug 6th, 2010 @ 8:13am

        Re: Re: "Most people are both creators and consumers at the same time" WRONG !!

        @DH's Love Child - being inspired by something is totally different than co-opting the original work. Just because The Black Keys might be big Led Zeppelin fans, doesn't mean that they are not creating original works. I'm sure dozens of movie directors are huge Hitchcock fans, but you couldn't argue that all movies by said directors were completely unoriginal.

        What is at issue is the rights of these people to protect their work from unauthorized distribution, where their long hours of creation are taken away from them with a few clicks of a mouse. Creators should have the right to decide how their work is distributed. If they choose to put locks on it, that should be respected. If the choose not to, that should also be respected.

         

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          hxa, Aug 6th, 2010 @ 10:15am

          Re: Re: Re: "Most people are both creators and consumers at the same time" WRONG !!

          > Creators should have the right to decide how their work is distributed.

          Why?

          Simply ask the question and follow it through. They have reasonable grounds to ask for payment for effort, but little for telling other people what they should or shouldn't do with copies. Creating is good, and copying is good -- they are both mutually supportive, and it does no good intrinsically to constrain copying. Culture is like language, it only really exists in so far as it is shared, and the essence of communication is its richness and free flow.

          What is really at issue is whether these conventional 'rights' of restriction should exist at all.

          Copyright is merely one possible commercial arrangement, and one poorly suited to an internet-enabled world.

           

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      tezza, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 10:26am

      Re: "Most people are both creators and consumers at the same time" WRONG !!

      You think a movie producer watches lots of movies and says "wow, thats is a good idea, I will do that".

      You're not going to tell us, you have never, ever watched a remake of a movie, are you?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 12:19pm

        Re: Re: "Most people are both creators and consumers at the same time" WRONG !!

        I think he didn't see the latest Hollywood blockbuster lately i.e. Sherlock Holmes, The Wolfman, Alice in Wonderland, Karate Kid.

        I just think he likes to moo! moo!

         

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      TtfnJohn (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 10:28am

      Re: "Most people are both creators and consumers at the same time" WRONG !!

      "(that everyone else is wrong, history is wrong and Mike is right ??)"

      I guess, that is if your history only goes back to the Statue of Ann or the signing of the US Constitution both of which historically are kinda recent.

      Humans have been creating as long as we've been here, you silly troll. Long before copyright, long before the written word, long before the dawn of agriculture. We've always created. For necessity, some to earn a living and most of us for fun. (Someone's flower garden isn't a creative act?????)

      Let's rephrase that shall we? Mike is right, history is right, shills and trolls like yourself are wrong. See? Simple when you engage brain before typing fingers.

       

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      Jeremy7600 (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 11:11am

      Re: "Most people are both creators and consumers at the same time" WRONG !!

      Dude! Darryl! Where's your brothers Larry and Darryl?

      See what I did there? I created a joke. About you. I am also a consumer. HA!

      Also, are you saying people who create, don't also consume? Wait, how do they eat? Do they not buy furniture? Have they never been to a movie/play/recital they didn't participate in? I could probably come up with 800 other examples, but I hope your pea sized brain gets the idea.

      Holy cats!!! How the F&*^ do creators NOT consume?

      Oh wait, its consumers who don't create?

      Holy sh&*, you're confusing me dude!

      I created this. This post, right here. Guess what? I just ate lunch, as a consumer! Oh, thats not art. Oh well, I bought a kick ass graffiti piece from the artist himself. (i'll dig up pictures if you want to see it, but you probably wouldn't think it was art, sinze your brain is only the size of a pea) I consumed that art by putting it on my wall. How did I do that? If I am a creator, I am not a consumer! HELP! DARRYL! HELP!!!!!!

      PS: I consumed tons of reruns of Newhart.

       

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      bshock, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 12:03pm

      Re: "Most people are both creators and consumers at the same time" WRONG !!

      Sir, you seem to be under the mistaken impression that artistic works are created in a vacuum and 100% original.

      All artists are innovators. They take their inspiration from the works of others, tweak a bit here, add a bit there, and come up with something more or less different.

      Perhaps not all consumers are creators, but all creators are consumers.

       

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      JEDIDIAH, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 12:25pm

      Re: "Most people are both creators and consumers at the same time" WRONG !!

      > Please explain, and list what you have created in terms of music, movies, books, that would be considered 'content'.

      Are you kidding?

      Are you for real?

      Under modern notions of copyright, every little stupid thing you do gets copyright protection. A lot of it ends up being derivative works quite accidentally. This is why Big Content tends to get it's panties in a bunch and sends take down notices to YouTube.

      Not everyone is Wagner. Not everyone needs to be. There are plenty of hacks that call themselves artists.

      Anything you do is building off of someone else. That's why American copyright was originally set up as it was. It was acknowledged that we all stand on each other's shoulders.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 12:41pm

      Re: "Most people are both creators and consumers at the same time" WRONG !!

      Every movie or song that is made available is a 'one off' each file has a specific code as a hidden water mark, that cannot be removed.


      What are you a schmoo?

      Why do you think watermarking is not done at the individual level yet schmoo?

      It would bring servers to its knee and it can be detected and removed since it is a periodic pattern inside every second of a music or frame of a movie. Not to mention that watermarking audio has severe drawbacks people can here the watermarking literally.

      Watermarking is not steganography, which doesn't use periodic patterns.

       

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      senshikaze (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 2:10pm

      Re: "Most people are both creators and consumers at the same time" WRONG !!

      Just a heads up: the 'Enter' key is not needed until you hit another paragraph. Most people can read just fine, we don't need margins for editing in a comment.

       

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      athe (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 6:57pm

      Re: "Most people are both creators and consumers at the same time" WRONG !!

      I'm thinking of categorising this as "funny", because surely you can't be serious...

       

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      martyburns (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 3:15am

      Re: "Most people are both creators and consumers at the same time" WRONG !!

      Do you actually think that only books movies and paintings are art/content.

      You are a tool.

       

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    chris, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 10:35am

    well...

    I don't know. When you see a Michael Bay "film" do you think "Monastic Lisa" or do you think "Big Mac"? Most of the garbage that the entertainment industry puts out these days is equivalent to fast food. Is it then the fault of the consumer that such an association is made?

     

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    Zacqary Adam Green (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 11:42am

    It's a shame that the recording industry and its lawyers want to turn this into an us vs. them situation.
    They've succeeded, though. It's just that it's literally us vs. them, not us vs. the actual talented people who are actually responsible for creating anything of value.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 11:51am

    Wait, slightly off topic question time. Outside of the whole infinite/limited goods debate, how is art different from a toaster or other mass produced good? Mr. Gannon sure seems to think that art is intrinsically better than other goods and I'd like to hear if anyone agrees with him about that and why.

    I've heard it said that art is the product of deliberately arranging elements of some kind in order to evoke emotion. Well toasters are deliberately made in such a way as to elicit emotion too: place the heaters in such a way as to create hunger and desire from the resulting smell; awe/desire/etc. on the exterior design ("wow, that's fancy/sleek/etc.") ; etc.

    Perhaps the emotional response for some would be stronger from their other goods than a toaster. Cars are certainly designed to elicite emotion. Even the choice of engine is usually more based more on the emotion desired in the buyer than utilitarian reasons ("My car is so powerful/loud/expensive/safe/big/cute/green/whatever"). In fact, I would go so far as to say that most of the people I know have a bigger emotional response to their coffee pot than to most "art" they hear/see on the radio/tv/theater.

    Forgive me for "denigrating art", by comparing it to mass produced goods (ok noone said that, but I think it was implied), but if you think that engineers don't do anything creative in the creation of mass produced goods, then I have to assume you've never designed anything.

    So again, what's the difference between art and other goods? Both require skill and knowledge to come up with a plan/idea and execute it. Both do (or at least can) involve the intentional creation of emotion. Both are (or at least can be) created in large numbers for mass consumption.

    Seriously, from my point of view, everything created could be considered art or utilitarian (or both) based solely on your point of view so why make such a big distinction. What am I missing? What make the arrangement of notes/words/paint, etc. more artistic that the arrangement of metal/electronics/plastic/etc. if both create emotion on the part of the buyer?

    Sorry about the rambling nature of this post. If I kept a blog I think I would ponder on this for a few days and post something more coherent, but it's something to think about.

     

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      TtfnJohn (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 3:00pm

      Re: Mass produced "art"

      Cases for Brittany Spears, Ashley Simpson, Backstreet Boys. Care for more?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 5:46pm

        Re: Re: Mass produced "art"

        I don't understand your point. Are you suggesting that those people are not artists? The music that they sing and the dance moves that they dance are clearly designed to have an emotional affect on their target audience. That is precisely the definition of art that I gave. If you have a different definition, let's hear it.

        Please note that I did not say that they wrote, played, or even that their unaltered voices are what is heard on the published recordings. I would not consider myself a member of the target audience and from the sounds of it you are likely not either. If you want to start making distinctions between crap art and real art go right ahead, but please be careful to avoid the "No true Scottsman" fallacy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman) or in this case, the "no real art" fallacy.

         

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      nasch (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 3:58pm

      Re:

      What would a toaster be without any art? It would still be a toaster. It might be ugly but it would toast bread. On the other hand, what would art be without any art? Nothing. What would art be without any specific utility? Still art. Objects can combine utility and art as you say, but the two are very different.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 5:36pm

        Re: Re:

        Can you make a toaster without art? You can intentionally make it ugly, but in so doing you chosen to (try to) create feelings something along the lines of disgust or revulsion. You can intentionally create it to be as mundane as possible, but then you are attempting to create feelings of indifference, etc.

        Any time you make something you make decisions that affect the final product and the way it will be viewed by the audience. If that affects someone else (anyone else, even if the rest of the world disagrees) in any emotional way the product could be considered art. Even the decision not to pay any attention whatsoever to what you are doing is an deliberate choice to create your product in a certain way which will have an affect on how others view it.

        In other words there is no way to create something without creating art. Every toaster is art.

        What is art without art? For the reasons given above I don't think such a thing exists, but even if it did, a painting without art is still a canvas with paint. A song without art is still noises and possibly words (I won't call them lyrics). A picture without art is still a snapshot. They are not nothing.

        Do you know of any art that has no utility? Even aside from things like calming people down, bringing groups of people together, causing people to think deeply about something, creating an awareness of a tragedy, etc. I can't think of any art that has no utility whatsoever. The Mona Lisa (and especially the frame it's in) could be used to open walnuts, the works of Beethoven can be used to test if speakers work, a statue can be used to barricade a door, a photograph can be used to sell a product . . .. Everything has a use, even if it is not it's intended use. I still see no distinctions between "art" products and "utility" products.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 5:36pm

        Re: Re:

        Can you make a toaster without art? You can intentionally make it ugly, but in so doing you chosen to (try to) create feelings something along the lines of disgust or revulsion. You can intentionally create it to be as mundane as possible, but then you are attempting to create feelings of indifference, etc.

        Any time you make something you make decisions that affect the final product and the way it will be viewed by the audience. If that affects someone else (anyone else, even if the rest of the world disagrees) in any emotional way the product could be considered art. Even the decision not to pay any attention whatsoever to what you are doing is an deliberate choice to create your product in a certain way which will have an affect on how others view it.

        In other words there is no way to create something without creating art. Every toaster is art.

        What is art without art? For the reasons given above I don't think such a thing exists, but even if it did, a painting without art is still a canvas with paint. A song without art is still noises and possibly words (I won't call them lyrics). A picture without art is still a snapshot. They are not nothing.

        Do you know of any art that has no utility? Even aside from things like calming people down, bringing groups of people together, causing people to think deeply about something, creating an awareness of a tragedy, etc. I can't think of any art that has no utility whatsoever. The Mona Lisa (and especially the frame it's in) could be used to open walnuts, the works of Beethoven can be used to test if speakers work, a statue can be used to barricade a door, a photograph can be used to sell a product . . .. Everything has a use, even if it is not it's intended use. I still see no distinctions between "art" products and "utility" products.

         

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          nasch (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 6:29pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Can you make a toaster without art?

          Of course, just make it with no consideration for any artistic value.

          Any time you make something you make decisions that affect the final product and the way it will be viewed by the audience. If that affects someone else (anyone else, even if the rest of the world disagrees) in any emotional way the product could be considered art.

          I think that's a hugely overbroad definition of "art". If a hammer company makes a handle out of ash instead of pine because it's stronger, and that gives it a different hue that makes someone feel differently about it, that does not mean the hammer is art. Art is about what the artist is trying to do, and if the creator is not trying to do anything artistic, it isn't art.

          In other words there is no way to create something without creating art.

          Any definition of a word that includes everything and excludes nothing is useless.

          What is art without art? For the reasons given above I don't think such a thing exists,

          That's what I said. :-)

          Do you know of any art that has no utility? Even aside from things like calming people down, bringing groups of people together, causing people to think deeply about something, creating an awareness of a tragedy, etc.

          That's also an extremely broad definition of "utility". I'm seeing a pattern. :-)

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 12:06pm

    The selective quotation "People who oppose protection for digital locks tend to see art and culture in the same light as they see mass-produced consumer goods." is in my view the commission of an important omission, with the omission being the clarifying remarks that followed.

    How many times have we heard here that consumers should not be limited in what they can do with goods they have purchased? "I bought a music player and should be able to load anything I want on it." "I bought software and should be free to modify it as I see fit." "I purchased a movie and am miffed that someone is trying to tell me that I cannot share it with the world so that others can share the same experience as I did."

    By selectively quoting what was said, an impression is left with readers that is not an accurate representation of the substance of all that was said.

     

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      JEDIDIAH, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 12:35pm

      Don't Tread on Me

      ...I dunno. The extra bits simply make it look like this lawyer is trying to lump in clear fair use with blatant piracy. The extra context doesn't really alter the meaning of what's been taken out of context.

      You've still got an *ssh*le making very broad assumptions about why people object to having their property rights trampled. I bought something. I have the right to do what I want with what is now my property. Some Mogul or Lawyer 2000 miles away should not be able to mess with my basic property rights.

      The fact that it is a copy of some artistic work should not matter. People like this should not get to dictate what I get to do in my own home with my own property. He doesn't get to exert rights over my property (the copy) just because he owns the original.

      Modern "art" is a sort of mechanical thing in that it must be functional like a machine in order to be useful and available to be enjoyed. Music and Video aren't just physical things that can be looked at and admired. They need to be interpreted in the same manner that computer code and algorithms. Otherwise you can't use or enjoy them or create derivatives from them.

      This complicates things.

      You can't display modern media without "cracking" it or "decoding" it or "copying" it.

       

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 2:13pm

      Re:

      How many times have we heard here that consumers should not be limited in what they can do with goods they have purchased? "I bought a music player and should be able to load anything I want on it." "I bought software and should be free to modify it as I see fit." "I purchased a movie and am miffed that someone is trying to tell me that I cannot share it with the world so that others can share the same experience as I did."

      It is true, people should not be limited with what they can do with goods they have purchased, but you seem to be confusing the physical good with the artwork.

      Gannon's piece suggests that the people who have this view do it because they don't value art.

      That's insulting.

      By selectively quoting what was said, an impression is left with readers that is not an accurate representation of the substance of all that was said.

      I believe it is a completely accurate portrayal of what he said? How is it not?

       

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    James Gannon, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 12:30pm

    Stay classy, Mike. Love the Hyrule comment.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 2:10pm

      Re:

      Stay classy, Mike.

      Hey James. Generally the sarcastic retort "stay classy" is used following an example of someone being not at all classy.

      You think me explaining why you are setting up a false dichotomy is unclassy?

      How's about this: rather than throwing around an insult, you actually respond to the criticism of your writeup?

       

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      TtfnJohn (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 3:07pm

      Re:

      I see you don't directly respond to valid criticism of your stand directly James only with sarcasm or by just ignoring it as if it doesn't exist.

      James meet TAM, TAM meet James. The pair of you should get along famously. By the way, I expect the wedding announcement sometime before Labour Day.

      (Deperately trying to stay "classy" to someone who doesn't understand the meaning of the word.)

       

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      vivaelamor (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 4:57pm

      Re:

      "Stay classy, Mike."

      Not enough irony in your diet, James?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 5:11pm

      Re:

      As an artist, I think you're a moron who understands art as much as I understand copyright.

      Guess which one of those will still be around in a hundred years? Here's a hint: it's been around for thousands of years already!

       

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      techflaws.org (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 2:07am

      Fail

      What a poor retort. Then again, such was your writeup.

       

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    Karl (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 3:12pm

    Artists care about DRM, huh?

    Gannon is totally full of crap.

    Most people don't share works because they feel "entitled" to, they do it because they're fans of the work and want other people to hear it. They infringe on copyright because they value art and culture more than a toaster.

    The only people who are actively for DRM are those who view art as a mass-produced consumer good. If you're not selling art, why would you even want what DRM promises?

    Artists generally only accept it when it's required (e.g. selling your music on iTunes when it started, or getting your movie onto Netflix Streaming). Or when they don't know any better (which is often - artists are not always tech-savvy).

    Also, copyright came about because publishers release works as mass-produced consumer goods. If that isn't happening, copyright doesn't apply. So any discussion of copyright must treat those works as consumer items. But nobody thinks that's all art is. (Except maybe the people who would benefit from DRM.)

     

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      hxa, Aug 6th, 2010 @ 10:36am

      Re: Artists care about DRM, huh?

      > copyright came about because publishers release works as mass-produced consumer goods

      Yes, pretty much, indeed. This is the key economic truth of copyright that captures it in a nutshell.

      Copyright exists because it turns abstracts into things that fit the dominant industrial structure of the last 200 years: factory-mass-production. Without it, anyone can distribute and copy. With it, a few can own and control factories stamping out many copies for sale.

       

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    Bill Rosenblatt, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 6:29pm

    Just one small problem

    Mike,

    I am mostly with you and am also not a fan of Gannon's dichotomy; it is about as up-to-date as mullets and Cheryl Tiegs swimwear.

    However: "almost everyone I know who is seriously against DRM or mandating digital locks is a well-established content creator"...? Uh, no. That is a misleading and self-serving tautology. First of all, you have to pick apart "DRM" and "mandating digital locks." There is a big gulf between choosing to use DRM (because you're Disney and want to protect the Hannah Montana franchise in which you invested millions) and mandating it by law (which I agree is a bad idea).

    Factoring that out, all you're left with is "People who write about how bad DRM is are content creators." (Like, uh, let's see... you?) As opposed to people who are opposed to DRM but don't write about it, other than perhaps in comments to blog posts. Or as opposed to people who don't have strong opinions about DRM and don't write about it.

    You should really get out more often. For example, come here to NYC and check out CMJ. Talk to some actual musicians, who don't understand technology but just want to get paid. Your carefully constructed arguments never seem to consider that possibility.

     

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      Karl (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 8:24pm

      Re: Just one small problem

      Talk to some actual musicians, who don't understand technology but just want to get paid.

      Mike should, actually, since these musicians apparently think that DRM will help them get paid. It won't. Being a PITA to your legitimate fans will not convince them to spend money.

      Musicians may not be as tech-savvy as some of the people on Techdirt, but a lot of them have mastered their material on a computer at one point or another.

      To these people, just ask them: "Say, how much do you just love the iLok?" Most will reply with some verbal invectives, "pain in the ass" being a mild one. (If they don't, they're probably using cracked software, which doesn't have those problems...)

      Now, just say, "DRM means you're basically making people use an iLok just to listen to your music. How much do you think that will improve sales?"

      They'll probably get the picture pretty quickly.

       

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 11:46pm

      Re: Just one small problem

      However: "almost everyone I know who is seriously against DRM or mandating digital locks is a well-established content creator"...? Uh, no. That is a misleading and self-serving tautology.

      I think you're making a big mistake if you don't realize that everyone is a content creator today. I understand WHY you think that way, but strategically, it's wrong.

      Factoring that out, all you're left with is "People who write about how bad DRM is are content creators." (Like, uh, let's see... you?) As opposed to people who are opposed to DRM but don't write about it, other than perhaps in comments to blog posts. Or as opposed to people who don't have strong opinions about DRM and don't write about it.

      It has nothing to do with whether or not you write about DRM. Content is a cultural phenomenon. Discussing, sharing, partaking in part of that shared culture is creating.

      You should really get out more often.

      Thanks, but I do just fine.

      For example, come here to NYC and check out CMJ. Talk to some actual musicians, who don't understand technology but just want to get paid. Your carefully constructed arguments never seem to consider that possibility.

      Huh. Really? I work with and talk to lots of content creators who are not at all technologically savvy. In fact, most of them are not. I've even worked with one musician that doesn't have an email address.

      So, yes, I've "considered the possibility" that not everyone uses technology. Doesn't make a difference at all. This isn't all about technology.

      It strikes me as odd that you think it is -- and that you think I don't spend time with musicians. Honestly, over the last two years I've been to more music industry events than tech events, and I've just agreed to head off to two more content events. I actually spend a lot more time with content creators than technologists. Like... probably 80 to 20 these days.

       

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        Bill Rosenblatt, Aug 6th, 2010 @ 6:31am

        Re: Re: Just one small problem

        Mike,

        "I think you're making a big mistake if you don't realize that everyone is a content creator today."

        a) I never said that
        b) We're going to have to agree to disagree over what constitutes "content creation." According to your model, anyone who says, writes, sings, photographs, etc., anything at any time is a content creator. Including people who write brain-dead comments to YouTube posts, or people (like me) who like to take pictures of their kids. I make a distinction for people who expect to make a living through their content. You apparently don't. That's fine, as long as we understand each other.

        I'll just leave you with one CMJ anecdote to illustrate my point. It was an indelible moment to me. I was on a "tech trends" panel at CMJ a couple of years ago. On the panel were people from a couple of startups, including one of the ones that records your band's gig and puts it up online, at no charge to you (the band), for the ad revenue. The guy actually said something like "Musicians don't do it for the money, they do it because they love playing and love to share their art." The audience was full of the indie musician types that populate CMJ. All I can tell you is that this panelist was lucky to get out of the room alive.

        One of my disagreements with Gannon is over his characterization of anti-DRM people's attitude toward content as "mass consumer products." There I think he's dead wrong. I have worked in silicon valley, and insofar as it's appropriate to ascribe a single point of view to all such people (which I admit is dubious), my view of the attitude is that content is just a pile of bits with no inherent value. That's where I get off the bus.

         

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          nasch (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 7:44am

          Re: Re: Re: Just one small problem

          You're saying the Silicon Valley crowd doesn't consider literature, music, and other art to have any inherent value? I hope I misunderstood.

           

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            Bill Rosenblatt, Aug 6th, 2010 @ 9:47am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Just one small problem

            Certainly individuals consider it to have value. But as a matter of corporate strategy, silicon valley by and large considers it to be an annoying cost of doing business, kind of like General Professional Liability insurance or property taxes.

             

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              Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 10:04am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Just one small problem

              Certainly individuals consider it to have value. But as a matter of corporate strategy, silicon valley by and large considers it to be an annoying cost of doing business, kind of like General Professional Liability insurance or property taxes.

              I have seen no indication, whatsoever, of this attitude by any Silicon Valley company I've been around. Honestly, the view here is generally the opposite of that. They tend to defer to content creators very quickly. It's a crowd that's overawed by rock stars.

               

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                Bill Rosenblatt, Aug 6th, 2010 @ 10:27am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Just one small problem

                Like I said: individuals yes. Corporate strategy no.

                Yes, Bono is a partner at Elevation so that Roger McNamee can hang with him. But I've heard Elevation say itself that they won't invest in content businesses.

                 

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    Steve - Creator / Consumer, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 7:43pm

    Creators, Consumers and Thieves

    I believe there are really 3 groups - Creators, Consumers and Thieves. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who claim to be "consumers" who hide behind the DRM / digital lock debate while all along they continue to steal content from websites like Isohunt. Let's forget the thieves and focus on the real consumers - i.e., the ones who actually pay for what the creator has made.

    C-32 does not place an obligation on the creator to incorporate DRM - just like a consumer is not obligated to purchase a product that contains DRM. If a consumer elects to purchase a product that they know contains DRM, then they know what they bought - for better or for worse.

     

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      nasch (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 9:49pm

      Re: Creators, Consumers and Thieves

      Let's forget the thieves and focus on the real consumers - i.e., the ones who actually pay for what the creator has made.

      That is probably not a good strategy for a content creator. There could be opportunities for more revenue among the "thieves", but not if you ignore them.

      If a consumer elects to purchase a product that they know contains DRM, then they know what they bought - for better or for worse.

      I think it's pretty common that they actually do not know what they bought. It's not like the package says "Includes SecureROM DRM for free!!" Or in the case of Sony's rootkit CDs, "this CD will take over your computer without asking".

       

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    herodotus (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 7:46pm

    "OK, I'm going to give you the same pop quiz that I always give people who think that all content is 'original'. Here you go:

    Name me 1 piece of music that is completely original. By completely, I mean that there is no part of it that could be identified as coming from any other piece of music. ANY."


    While I do not think that all content is 'original' (that would be silly), I will accept your challenge.

    Arnold Schoenberg's 'Erwartung'.

    If you would like a few more examples, try:

    Karlheinz Stockhausen's 'Gesang Der Juenglinge'

    Henri Pousseur's 'Scambi'

    Pierre Schaeffer's 'Etudes de Bruits'

    Not to mention Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, Bartok's String Quartet no. 3, or Diamanda Galas' 'Divine Punishment'.

    Musical Originality is not all that hard to find. The problem is that no one really has any interest in it. People just like to pretend that they do. Why, I don't know.

     

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      Karl (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 9:19pm

      Re: Creativity

      All of the people you mentioned learned their "tools of the trade" from other people who came before them (Schoenberg's debt to Brahms and Wagner, Galas' use of classical opera techniques, etc). No matter how far out into the wilderness they go, you can always follow the bread crumbs back to the village.

      One example that I like is Jim Thirwell, aka Foetus - roughly 80% of his music is sampled from other (usually obscure) musical sources, but Thirwell sounds like none of them, nor anyone else.

      A different example would be John Cage's Imaginary Landscape No. 4 for for 12 radios, 24 performers, and director. The performers "play" the radios according to the director, who follows Cage's score. Now this is pretty creative, especially considering it was written in 1951. But because it's using other peoples' content (the radio transmissions), it's "derivative" in a purely copyright sense.

      More examples. Two experimental artists I enjoy a lot are Tod Dockstader and Bernard Parmegiani. Both are in the tradition of "musique concrete," which started with Henry and Shaeffer. That doesn't make them any less talented.

      Like most people, you're confusing "creativity" with "originality." You can sound totally unique and still be "derivative" in the sense we're talking about here. It's less a matter of "sounding like someone else" and more a matter of influence.

      And to be influenced by another artist, you need to be a consumer of his or her art. So, the dichotomy is still false, or at least a red herring.

      As an aside - if you don't already know about it, you really need to check out the Avant Garde Project. You'll dig it.

       

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    herodotus (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 6:27am

    Like most people, you're confusing "creativity" with "originality." You can sound totally unique and still be "derivative" in the sense we're talking about here. It's less a matter of "sounding like someone else" and more a matter of influence.

    I'm not confused at all, thanks.

    'Originality' doesn't require a completely blank slate. The sense I am using it in is: "Showing a marked departure from previous practice: new"

    I have never really overestimated the power of originality to create something out of nothing. I know well that Schoenberg and Co. were deeply immersed in their Austro-Germanic tradition. But of course, this kind of 'derivation' doesn't come into conflict with copyright law does it?

    There is a big difference between how Schoenberg was influenced by Brahms and how Timbaland was 'influenced' by Janne Suni.

    In any case, I wasn't commenting on the original article. I agree with Mike on the issues involved 98 percent of the time anyway. I was just taking up the challenge provided by DH's Love Child for shits and giggles.


    And thanks for the link. It looks promising. :)

     

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    jduhls, Aug 6th, 2010 @ 8:32am

    Ownership of ideas

    Yep - sorry, it's true: once an idea leaves your head, it's free. No matter how you try to turn it into a "commodity" or pass laws to punish people who have the sameidea. It's still intangible and free in reality. It seems futile to fight this truth. The plutocrats slowly lose power as each new person comes online. What's going to happen when all 7 billion people on this planet are also online? All knowledge and ideas will be distributed freely to anyone who needs it. There will be no way to stop it or police it because the plutocracy will be completely overwhelmed. Watch. It's going to be exciting when the billions of poor people have access to the same free education and culture many of us already do thanks to the magical interwebs. I smell paradigm shift coming.

     

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    PrometheeFeu (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 10:00am

    "Should artists be able to retain some control on how their works are copied or modified even once they're sold?"

    No. Don't like it? Don't sell it. If you want to be able to ignore the wishes desires and actions of people who buy your art. Put it in your garage and don't sell it. Yes. We are consumers. If you don't want consumers to have your art, don't sell it and get a day job. If you are all about the purity of your art, then why get involved in crass commercialism by trying to make a living off it? If you want to make a living off it, get off your high horse and accept people will do things you don't want.

     

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    herodotus (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 10:22am

    "I'll just leave you with one CMJ anecdote to illustrate my point. It was an indelible moment to me. I was on a "tech trends" panel at CMJ a couple of years ago. On the panel were people from a couple of startups, including one of the ones that records your band's gig and puts it up online, at no charge to you (the band), for the ad revenue. The guy actually said something like "Musicians don't do it for the money, they do it because they love playing and love to share their art." The audience was full of the indie musician types that populate CMJ. All I can tell you is that this panelist was lucky to get out of the room alive."

    CMJ is a corporate rock publication for people with Tattoos.

    Most of the people who pay attention to it want to be the next Nirvana or Radiohead. These people aren't necessarily representative of independent musicians taken as a whole.

     

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    average_joe (profile), Aug 9th, 2010 @ 6:39am

    The problem is that this is a totally false dichotomy. These aren't two separate groups. Most people are both creators and consumers at the same time. The lines separating the two are also somewhat porous and meaningless.

    I don't see this as a false dichotomy at all.

    For example, I just bought a copy of "Catch-22" off of amazon.com. Did I create the work? Nope. Joseph Heller did. I'm the consumer, and he's the creator. There is a clear dichotomy.

    Now I understand that I might adapt ideas from the work, for example the idea of the paradox referred to as a "catch-22," but that doesn't make me a creator of the novel "Catch-22." The dichotomy couldn't be clearer.

    I think it's all too convenient for the anti-copyright crowd to think the dichotomy is false because it makes it easier to rationalize being anti-copyright.

    This crowd tends to characterize the dichotomy as being between creators/consumers and middlemen. To me, that misses the point. Those are three different groups.

    Just because a person can be a creator and a consumer doesn't mean it's fallacious to consider that person as one or the other, discreetly, given the context.

    Those who wish to blur the two seem to have an agenda. Ironically, this agenda purports to aim to protect authors' rights by taking them away, IMO.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      nasch (profile), Aug 9th, 2010 @ 8:14am

      Re:

      The real dichotomy you pointed out, namely that most people who read Catch-22 aren't Joseph Heller, is so obvious and specific as to be useless. The false dichotomy being criticized here is that there is little or no overlap between the people who are consumers and the people who are producers.

      Whether that false dichotomy is actually being promoted by the article in question I don't know; I didn't RTFA. But that it's false is (or should be) beyond question, because the thought that artists don't consume art is laughable.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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