Francis Ford Coppola On Art, Copying And File Sharing: We Want You To Take From Us

from the first-step dept

Paul Tamm points us to a really wonderful interview with filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, which touches on a whole variety of different topics, but a couple of quotes are likely to be interesting to folks around here. For example, he's asked about copying works of other filmmakers and whether or not he tries to "veer away" from the masters of the craft to create his own style, and he responds brilliantly:
I once found a little excerpt from Balzac. He speaks about a young writer who stole some of his prose. The thing that almost made me weep, he said, "I was so happy when this young person took from me." Because that's what we want. We want you to take from us. We want you, at first, to steal from us, because you can't steal. You will take what we give you and you will put it in your own voice and that's how you will find your voice.

And that's how you begin. And then one day someone will steal from you. And Balzac said that in his book: It makes me so happy because it makes me immortal because I know that 200 years from now there will be people doing things that somehow I am part of. So the answer to your question is: Don't worry about whether it's appropriate to borrow or to take or do something like someone you admire because that's only the first step and you have to take the first step.
While (of course), I always dislike the incorrect use of the term "stealing," I found this to be quite an insightful answer from someone who is certainly in a position to pretend otherwise. However, throughout history we've heard similar (if much less eloquent) claims from others. Ray Charles famously made similar points about copying his music (shamelessly) from others to create his own unique sound (and invent soul music in the process).

Immediately after this, he's asked about business models, and he notes:
This idea of Metallica or some rock n' roll singer being rich, that's not necessarily going to happen anymore. Because, as we enter into a new age, maybe art will be free. Maybe the students are right. They should be able to download music and movies. I'm going to be shot for saying this. But who said art has to cost money? And therefore, who says artists have to make money?

In the old days, 200 years ago, if you were a composer, the only way you could make money was to travel with the orchestra and be the conductor, because then you'd be paid as a musician. There was no recording. There were no record royalties. So I would say, "Try to disconnect the idea of cinema with the idea of making a living and money." Because there are ways around it.
While some will misinterpret this to mean that artists shouldn't make money, that's not what he's saying at all. He's saying it shouldn't be presumed that they automatically must make money -- or that if they are to make money, that it needs to come from the film directly.

Filed Under: art, copying, francis ford coppola, free, sharing


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2011 @ 3:34pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If you want to do an ad hominem attack, you have to know something about the person you are using it against. Just for your information, I already finished university.

    And yes, I did spend a lot of time thinking about file sharing and Internet freedom issues. Unsurprising, since I have been worrying about them for a long time.

    What I mentioned was only a small sample of the reactions from the "online world", or as people called it much earlier, the "electronic frontier", to attacks on it. I focused on just a few recent reactions and of different kinds, since they were just an example. An example of how, instead of cowering in fear or giving up, the "online world" is fighting back.

    Distributed P2P DNS is only the tip of the iceberg. It is an immediate reaction to an immediate issue: the abuse of the control one country has, for historical reasons, over the "global" gTLDs. There are other initiatives, some which tunnel over the Internet in such a way the origin and destination of the traffic are disguised. It is a tradeoff: the more secure these solutions are, the more heavy they are, so they tend to be unused until a need is felt for them. In Japan, where copyright enforcement is more draconian and bandwidth is plentiful, heavily encrypted solutions such as WinNY, Share, and Perfect Dark, are very popular.

    The Pirate Parties are, as you noted, very narrowly focused. That such a narrowly focused political party could get that much popularity in a short amount of time is impressive. It also points to a trend of greater political mobilization of what you called the "online world".

    Operation Payback is more than just "a bunch of DDoS'ing kids". It is a demonstration of how easily a vigilante mob can form on the Internet, to fight for whatever issue they are worried about. It is the dark side of the reactions to these "government and private legal actions", and we are lucky they did not go much farther than DDoS.

    Hopping countries is not the last resort these sites have. It is only the current one. Spammers and malware peddlers are ahead in this game, and they have already shown a few tricks which no doubt these sites could also use if needed. And there is always the true distributed option, in which the server is in no country because there is no central server.

    I expect the "all you can eat buffet" to increase, but not in the way you are thinking. Think of things like Jamendo, for instance. I paid zero for the operating system I am currently using. And the pirated stuff will still be available, even if it is a bit harder to find.

    Yes, IPv6 is coming. Have you heard of RFC 4941, which I make sure is enabled on all my computers? From what I have heard, Windows enables it by default.

    To close this already long reply, yes, the Internet will change and become more "civilized". It is unavoidable. But we cannot yet see what form it will take. If this form allows for free communication between people, which I believe is the most probable scenario, you cannot prevent piracy (read the Darknet paper for the reason). If, however, this form does not allow for free communication between people, I can predict that an alternative to the Internet will appear, and be even harder to control.

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