Copyrights and Flags

There are a million reasons I could give as to why music and film, once they enter society, and they are savoured, sampled, devoured and idolised, become particles of popular culture, and hence, once time has stripped the economic return from them, they should become copyright-free for artistic purposes.

My hope is that, in the future, the legal palaver wrapping a music or film asset, will be as obsolete as flags stuck on the Moon….

5 Responses to “Copyrights and Flags”
  1. Jaime says:

    Nice animation, I think that some messages can be understood better in the layer of animations, and if the animation is in any fun way, better for sending the message.
    “Particles of popular culture” or “social waves” because there is a natural standard, created ‘the facto’ by our evolution. All changes need time, and evolution need some time, but when the wave is here, we must evolve or we will be forgotten. Evolving is hard for some minds, but the natural knowledge created by the society evolves over the isolated mids. Nowadays, communities took the power to decide actions over old laws, and nowdays communities have more power than any corporation. The real problem, is that we need time to know that a modern community have the power to decide the moment fore something to be moved from economic to artistic.

  2. Ed Maklouf says:

    This way of framing the issue is well-meaning but misguided.

    Copyright agreements are historical, not logical. (The reasons why Warhol gets away with it, and the Beastie Boys could make Paul´s Boutique, are historical, they are works to which the legal and profit-making entities in the space had to respond and adjust, constructing a framework for exploiting this type of “asset” that was beneficial to them.) The “protection” of artistic works have more to do with plausability and the practical realities of the means of distribution than with any coherent ideas about what is being made or sold, and the more you see people trying to call everything “assets” so as to fit it in with some easy industrial metaphor the more sure you can be that the terms and arguments in use are not generalizable.
    Any musician with a sense of humility (about 2%!) can explain to you how songs by Bob Dylan or the Rolling Stones are “mashups” of Chuck Berry or Muddy Waters tracks. Following the implications of the articles in the blog, why can´t I take a beatles track, “improve” it by doing a slightly better eq on the Bass, and display it for whoever wants to see my “improved art” on the website, not for sale but with the benefits that accrue from offering valube content, free or otherwise?
    When talking about “precise definitions”, it´s usually good to be able to pin down the meaning (and practical mechanism for identifying) at least one or two of the terms in the definition. I would love to see a strong definition that could be applied in practice for “enhanced art” “elevating the subject” (this presumably means that any art which discredits any brand is not protected – no counterculture art then under this framework?) “aimed artistically”. I doubt I will see one, and that´s probably the conclusion that these Executives come to.
    Creating and regulating remuneration guidelines based on an idea of intent to create enhanced artistic experience! It´s absurd enough to make a good artistic or comedic product itself! – There would be some great trials!.

  3. inmamartinez says:

    You’ve nailed it on the head, Ed.

    Yes, most art and creative output has a “tiger’s leap” into the past or a mashable leverage from other work. And the point it, when it is to be enjoyed, people enjoy it for what it is at that point of rehashed existence, or reject it because it is naff or badly done. My point is that no one should stop you from improving a Beatles track that gets posted on your website for artistic purposes not revenue. But the sad reality is that you would get stopped and sued, and this is why you are challenging the current cultural patterns of acceptance of this ludicrous legal loop.

    We have a current generation that has found on the web and through access to superior technology, ways to creatively mashup, reversion, alter and mix pieces of music and film that deserve to be admired and enjoyed if they are superior, or booed and forgotten if not, but they deserve to have an output. And as you said, it is the music industry and the film industry the ones that, if they seek revenue from such evolution, should find a way to build it around a behaviour that is simply not going to stop.

    The problem is, sometimes these works of remixable nature are the output of 15 or 17 year olds, like the eddie izzard + lego series, all made by a 15 kid in Germany. And are snippets of genius, but not enough to sign him up to a label… The point is, suing and threatening the folks that see no profit from their mashups is wrong and has to stop because it freezes our freedom to create and re-create from popular culture.

  4. Ed Maklouf says:

    There is an old story my dad used to tell me about an angry chef who complained to a wise mayor that a homeless guy was standing outside his restaurant every evening and sniffing the delicious smells coming out of the window. The story goes that the chef demanded that the man be whipped for appropriating his food, and the wise mayor immediately accepted but with the condition that he can only whip the man´s shadow.

    You are appealing for a wise mayor, someone or institution who can distinguish between different types of use. We have the “fair use” concept in England for books, and i don´t think anyone can deny that it would be a great step forward to “get real” and accept behaviours that are not damaging to anyone´s business model and furthermore are impossible to regulate. But is this a realistic appeal to make? It´s realistic if you can define a fair use doctrine which can distinguish between the “artists” and people who are just using loopholes to profit from. I´ll give you an example: there is alot of music online which is posted as a video, with a slideshow of photos (sometimes relevent to the song, sometimes not) as the visuals. Under your supposed precise definition this would be an “enhanced” experience – you get the music and something more – but it´s inescapable that if you have access to this asset you have access to the song – you own the song and don´t need to buy it. There are ten million other configurations of media assets now possible. What you are seeing in the crazy lawsuits are not corporations defending their rights in something, but defending their right to defend their rights. They (probably correctly) can see that the end result of relaxing into a non-psycho nazi stance (which you are right to claim is crazy when you look at each instance, each lawsuit) is the erosion of their position. What you are asking them to do is accept their new inferior status in a changing-dying industry landscape. You say the execs are naive and crazy not to accept that teens with this technology are going to do this behaviour. If thats true, aren´t you being equally naive about the behaviour that companies and for-profit entities and their legal departments do? They agressively protect their claims as far as they can for as long as they can. They will stop doing this not in response to arguments about being reasonable or about adapting to change. We need stronger arguments that stimulate them to change direction or at least style.. what could those arguments be? –

  5. inmamartinez says:

    What Is My Appeal?
    My appeal is simple. There are infringements of copyrights that need to be allowed. We all have photocopied books from the university library, and made tapes for our friends, or CDs, with compilations of songs or entire albums. In the past, all this was pretty much impossible to control because it was done off-line. In today’s digital age, the youth of the world is more trackable, and scarily, all this can end up very bad. But regulation, when stringent, needs to be changed to allow for real infringement to be penalised, ie a guy that out of his bedroom sets up a massive production of copyright infringed content that he sells over the web from his site. That, apart from stupid – because he will be caught, is infringement for economic benefit. Even if this was done free of charge, it is organised activity and hence should be looked at.

    I am far from being naïve. We all know graffiti is illegal on public property, but here comes Banksi and it becomes Art and NIKE does a whole campaign stealing the concept. Wow, all of a sudden something illegal is not? I, and many like myself, have been for a long time challenging the status quo in search for better regulation. I believe in copyright when it applies, but not when it prevents creativity that is more to do with self-expression than with making money or organised criminal activity.

    Slideshows With Music On Youtube
    Yes, a bunch a kids have done their tribute reels with stills+soundtrack. Of course they do not own the rights to that soundtrack, but neither do schools who let students put on end of year talent shows using current soundtracks. Or the djays playing at people’s weddings. Because under current regulation, in order to play music or show films in public venues in front of an audience, you have to get the rights. The whole point is: misappropriation for commercial benefit should be penalised. Other forms of appropriation, if done for artistic purposes, individual self-expression or other forms of non commercial revenue, in a non-organised form should be allowed.

    A Legal Situation In Need of Reform
    Yes. The legal position of the copyrights owners is being eroded and I am working – in film for example, to change this. And they know it is needed. And the EU Regulatory body and other initiatives – 2010i, are trying to come up with improved regulation. Unfortunately, the speed of legal change is always slower than the wave of change on the streets.

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