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Re: Basic intro (OT)

On Wed, 15 Aug 2001 15:51:51 -0400, "Michael LaMeyer" <mlameyer@rcn.com>

>Economically and socially speaking, it's a different matter
>because the ramifications impact real peoples real lives in a
>more earthly way.  The whole notion of 'intellectual property'
>invokes very strong mixed emotions in me.  

And therein lies the rub. There HAS to be an acceptable middle ground!
It's clearly most beneficial to artists from an *artistic* standpoint
when they can freely sample and derive from any and all media, but then
there's no benefit to creating art -- you make something and say "look
what I did!", but then anyone can grab it and run off and do whatever
they want with it. When we say it's *okay* for anyone to do whatever
they want, we very quickly run into the problem of people running out
and doing things we don't like. And when we say it's NOT okay, that you
have to have the original artist's permission, we very quickly run into
the opposite problem of artists who won't let you do ANYTHING. 

And that's my main problem with copyright. A lot of the people who own
copyrights aren't artists. An artist can be consulted; you can go to an
artist and say "I want to do this with your stuff, is that okay?" -- and
if the artist likes what you're doing, chances are he's fine with it.
But copyright is often held by corporations and heirs who don't have any
actual sense of the ART -- only the ownership. Their perception of a
sample or a melodic groove is simply that this is a commodity which can
be sold, and thus we have notions of audio "theft". It's very neatly
circular; if the product didn't have value, you wouldn't have used it. 

It gets worse. When you combine this notion of art as property with an
artistic temperament, many independent artists will not only protect
their property rights in a given piece, but also take offense at any
effort to license those rights -- objecting that this treats their work
as a product which can be bought, and trivialises the artistic value of
the work. You can't use it without permission, because this doesn't
respect the rights of the author; you can't get permission, because this
doesn't respect the sanctity of the art. 

Luckily, we have the concept of "fair use". Not that it's actually any
good until you get to court, but you can usually cast enough doubt on a
potential lawsuit to get it dropped as long as you have a reasonably
decent argument their lawyers will look at and say "actually, he has a
valid legal position". 

I don't like copyright law as it stands. I think it lends itself too
easily to abuses (one of which I perpetrate myself: deliberate
exploitation of the nebulous definition of fair use). But copyright law
as a concept is absolutely essential to the maintenance of an artistic
community at *all* in a capitalist economy.