Goddamit, what really pisses me off about this is that this is Bob Dylan, copier extraordinaire, whose music is being locked up.
As it happens, this very night I was listening to The Times They Are A-Changin'. Small coincidence. But let's go through that album quickly so:
Track 1. 'The Times They Are a-Changin' - by Dylan's own admission, based off various Irish/Scottish ballads.
Track 2. 'Ballad of Hollis Brown' - based off an Appalachian tune called 'Pretty Polly'.
Track 3. 'With God on Our Side' - based off a song of Dominic Behan's called 'The Patriot Game'. (Interesting side-note: the melody is not Behan's own. Which just shows that such borrowing is an ordinary, even healthy, way to go about songwriting and none of this is meant on an attack on Dylan's character.) (Say that to Behan though: he considered Dylan a "plagiarist and a thief").
(To my ears, tracks 5 and 6, 'North Country Blues' and 'Only a Pawn in Their Game' sound like developed melodies Dylan came across somewhere, the former especially seems Irish/Scottish with its i->VII->i progression. No solid sources on them though, so I'll pass over.)
Track 7. 'Boots of Spanish Leather' - based off Dylan's own 'Girl From North Country' which in turn was based off the English song 'Scarborough Fair'.
Track 8. 'When the Ship Comes In' - based off a more contemporary (well, 1928) operatic song Pirate Jenny.
Track 9. 'The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll' - based off the Child Ballad Mary Hamilton (no. 173 in that collection).
Track 10. 'Restless Farewell' - little more than a personalised rewrite of a (still popular) Irish tune called The Parting Glass.
Now I don't mean to denigrate Dylan. I think he's one of the twentieth century's greatest songwriters, I've huge personal respect for him. But he depended heavily on other people's creativity to achieve what he did (let's not even get started on how derivative the b-sides and outtakes are).
So that he's locking up all these songs, all this culture, claiming it as his own, and demanding dues for its use...it's simply wrong of him. And not only for its inequality of sharing, but for culture to come: how can the twenty-first century's great songwriters hope to achieve even half what he did, if they can't lean on inspiration such as his but are expected to create all of their own songs whole cloth?
But...but...America's advantage! We can't risk leveling the playing field, then we might lose!
Art shouldn't cost any money. Yes! He hit the nail on the head.
But...artists should cost.
If I want coffee freely available in my own kitchen, I need to get a coffee machine. Or (a better analogy) if I want delicious meals freely available in my own kitchen, I need to employ a chef.
Likewise, if I want movies, music, stories, freely available to me, I need to "employ" an artist. The costs are enormously distributed sure, but if he can afford to stand there all day until somebody requests a poem, it's got to be because his basic living expenses are looked after for him.
It's like back in the 18th century, how classical composers were employed by courts or commissioned by wealthy patrons. Only the richest could afford such an extravangance like art back then. But with the internet, we're all aristocrats now.
But guyz what if the ends don't justify the means? What if using a reference tool as though it were political activism tool is not ok? What if 'effectiveness' is not a measure of what's acceptable? What if doing all this is some kind of transgression of duty?
Also, can someone explain what's to stop this decision opening the door for subsequent political abuse of wikipedia? Pleading special circumstances? Isn't that the same logic behind why it's ok for PIPA to mangle established law and muzzle free expression?
But ok, we don't want consumers being ripped off. So standardise it: Same packaging as the Tesco Value brand (like this: http://img.metro.co.uk/i/pix/2006/11/value_175x125.jpg), the only difference between different companies' offerings is the name.
Slight tangent: This makes me wonder how things would change if it became illegal not just to advertise tobacco, but even to display logos, images, slogans, brands within each company as well.
Would such a ban affect smoking's perceived desirability?
"Of course, one could argue that these sites are no different than conversation was for previous generations, and that conversation seldom generated big ideas either, and one would be right."
No, man, NO. One would be horribly wrong to argue that. Conversation is where a GREAT number of big ideas are born. From the Parisian cafes of Sartre and Camus, to the English coffeehouses in the 17th century, to pubs, gelaterias, salons - where people met, ideas came about.
How could you want less conversation, and give your reason as being for the sake of more ideas??