Discuss Amongst Yourselves

Is remixing the “I smoked but didn’t inhale” of the next generation?

Anyway, the comments in this post are very revealing. Admittedly, I am part of the generation that got slapped down by the RIAA, who overnight managed to outlaw sampling in a stunning action of greed and overreach (and I consider the Sonny Bono Millennial Copyright legislation to be the absolute work of the devil), and yet, at the same time I’m also one of the people who says Pay The Author really loud. I guess this question makes me very conflicted.

Anyone want to weigh-in? How can I object to HuffPo if I think that sampling Mommy Dearest with Noonan’s latest appearance on MTP is a valid use of creative license?


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13 Responses to Discuss Amongst Yourselves

  1. mitt pomney says:

    I wrote this 5 years ago. I hink the system will evolve toward this by the very nature of information. But evolution is often tedious slow…. Considering the american political climate, it would be fought tooth and nail in the U.S., and would probably begin to become concrete law elsewhere. I discuss audio, but of course it applies to all media that can be digitized: documents, photos, video, software, etc. [update: I think the fairly-reasonable monthly fees current, e.g. on netflix for streaming content, and efforts to digitize millions of old books are heading in the right direction.]


    What needs to happen is to stop putting up with proprietary formats. Boycott all of it. Use ogg (or mp3) [non-DRM, non-watermarked, open-source formats.] Period. I will allow nothing else into my collection. I would no more do that than I would knowingly plant a patented or genetically-modified seed. (I mean can anything get more evil than Monsanto?)

    It’s a big enough insult to have to pay so much, but for a crippled format?? Don’t. Buy. It. Noone in the corporate world is looking out for the best interest of the people at large–only we ourselves can do it, if it is done at all.

    Imagine an economic system where as much money as now (perhaps even a little more, perhaps less) passed from consumers to producers of content (though I wouldn’t mind at all cutting out middle-men here), but where _noone was prevented_ from listening/watching/using _any_ publicly-available digital content. The whole cultural archive online, taxes of some kind paying for it (much more in proportion to how wealthy you are than how much you download/watch), artists/authors/producres/programmers paid according to some formula of popularity, critical/artistic/technical merit, expense of production, etc.

    The world would be _much richer_ (because economy has to do with abundance of _the wealth money represents_, not the money itself, which is just paper, after all). And we all agree that media content is valuable, don’t we?

    I believe this is obvious, yet noone is addressing it seriously in any corporate media that I’ve ever seen. [Bless you Progressive Review (http://prorevnews.blogspot.com/), for keeping a spotlight on it; you’re one of the few who do.]

    I’m sure evolving such a system would be difficult, but I contend it is _not_ impossible, or is at least worth _thinking about_ and _trying_. Noone in power is even imagining its possibility, though, because they _don’t give a rat’s ass_ about the general welfare.

    Just a little contemplation reveals that there’s a new and unique economic nature to this type of ‘commodity’, one which doesn’t fit old economic models. There’s a real gift here, because unlike cake, you can have digital media and share it too. However it’s not a gift to individual businesses, but to the entire commonwealth.

    A corporation only cares how this great gift — that valuable digital content can be copied for nearly zero cost — can profit _the one business they own_, though. They desperately try to ignore this new factor, or keep it all its benefit for themselves, and try to hypnotize the rest of us into believing that sharing is evil. IMO, it is instead the ‘digital rights managers’ that are the ‘pirates’, attempting to perpetrate a great evil on the rest of us, by monopolizing and preventing the spread of this great cultural wealth. I feel very strongly and sincerely about this.

    We need to assert a new kind of eminent domain here, I think; in the long run, I believe we will.

    I hope we can begin the difficult dialog on how an economic system could be created that would work for everybody: that’s as fair as possible, and which uses the true economic nature of digital content to _everyone’s_ advantage (except, perhaps, the all-for-me-alone greedheads). The nature of digital content simply cannot be denied forever; there’s too much pressure for their measly spiggots.


  2. Mike B. says:

    I don’t believe in the whole idea of intellectual property. In the case of patents on drugs, it results in a lot of deaths because people can’t afford medicine that could help them and could be produced for sometimes much, much less than the market price. The consequences of copyrights of software and art are less important, but still I think that the result is lower human welfare – most people who obtain this stuff illegally would not have paid for it, and so them getting it makes them happier at no cost to anyone. (Of course, there is a cost for those who would have otherwise paid.)

    Obviously, creators are less likely to create if they are not paid, but there are other ways to accomplish this. The intellectual property system primarily benefits the corporations holding the copyrights or patents, not the creators.


  3. Zencomix says:

    Hey Tengrain, check out Kembrew McLeod and Freedom of Expression.

    “McLeod applied for registration of the phrase “Freedom of Expression” as a trademark in the United States in 1998,[10][11] and was successful in obtaining the mark.[12] He stated he would initiate a lawsuit against individuals who subsequently utilized this phrase without his permission, and commented, “If the ACLU wanted to put out a magazine with title Freedom of Expression, they would have to pay me royalties.”[9] After the telecommunications company AT&T utilized the phrase during a marketing campaign, McLeod’s attorney sent a cease and desist letter to request that AT&T stop using his trademarked phrase.[4] Writing in his book Owning Culture: Authorship, Ownership, and Intellectual Property Law, McLeod explained that his intention with the registration of “Freedom of Expression” was to initiate a form of social commentary in the media, “I would let the news story itself be the social commentary.”[12] ”

    He’s a bit of a prankster!


    • Tengrain says:

      Zen – I love that story, it shows the level of stupidity involved. One of the tech companies here in Silicon Valley tried to trademark a letter (or was it a number? I cannot remember) because it was going to be the name of the next product. They got laughed at on the front page of the business section for that one and it was rightly rejected.




  4. mitt says:

    Thanks, TG. Yeah, I’m a long-time supporter of EFF (and MPS).

    My view of corporations: not necessarily evil, but a newer level of organization than living beings, hence (naturally) less evolved, more primitive at this stage. They still have a lot of evolving to do. They still have a lot to learn (about the benefits of sharing, e.g.) The (ignorant, corporation-propaganda-drugged) U.S. populace seems also to have a lot to learn about sharing. Perhaps (unfortunately) the best teacher about that is a depression….


  5. mitt says:

    Love the logo, btw (benevolently assigned, I presume, by the holy FSM).


  6. wagonjak says:

    As you know TG, I’m a visual artists who picks up images from all over the web and puts them together in complex photoshopped pieces…I guess I could be sued (even though I haven’t made a cent from any of them) if one of these “web policemen” found one image out of 50 that I used to build my art that they have a copyright on and that I used without their permission. Is this right?


  7. grs says:

    How to Steal Like an Artist.

    @Zen: When Paul’s Boutique was re-released a few years back, I remember the Beastie Boys saying that they could never have made that record in today’s age and current copyright interpretation. They would have lost millions because of all the samples. Royalties would have killed it before it started. Same thing NWA’s Fear of a Black Planet. Kembrew McCleod was one of the people that actually crunched the numbers on what each sample would have cost the band.

    There are differences between HuffPo and sampling music. HuffPo is asking people to work for free and profiting off it – handsomely. It would be akin to me asking the Beastie Boys to write me an album and then I went and started selling it. I guess people who write for HuffPo are doing it of their own volition. It seems unethical and like a Ponzi scheme to me. What gets me more with HuffPo are the silly “gotcha” headline and slideshow pieces, which apparently HuffPo staff are now stealing from the web. I can’t remember the actual example (there’s a few) but some kid put together something silly like Brad Pitt’s best fight scenes and HuffPo will republish verbatim as if it was their own content.


  8. zencomix says:

    Thanks for that link, GRS. The recent The Iowa City Intellectual Freedom Festival has a great panel discussion on all this stuff, of which Kembrew McLeod was a part of, including a clip from his film Copyright Criminals.


  9. mitt says:

    Of course, any digitized content can be thought of as a number (in fact an integer, if you wish). Each copyrighted work can actually be represented by any of an infinite number of integers – any program or piece of data in any encoding that can be used to reproduce the work to some resolution. So a whole lot of integers and numbers have already been patented or copyrighted for the exclusive use of the holder. Doesn’t seem right, does it, to have the number line itself full of holes: numbers and integers the general public is prohibited from using. (Bad enough slicing up and giving away public airwaves to a few rich piggies, but numbers?….)

    Makes a mathematician’s job even harder. Are we still allowed to prove things about those numbers (fair use?), or we restricted to the public domain ones? 😉

    Further revealing my Mathematics of Computation roots, this is the kind of question such theorists like to ask:

    What is the smallest integer that is (or may be) patented?



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