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A Search for Comity in the Intellectual Property Wars: symposium at The New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU, April 28-30, 2006 [slides, audio, transcripts]
download the report [PDF]
I linked to this article in an earlier post, but I think it's well worth reblogging here in full.
via Creative Destruction (from the vaults):
Creative culture is on the rise, thanks largely to recent technology. Anybody can shoot a video or record a song and upload it to YouTube and millions of people might see it. Digital technology has put the arts back into the hands of the people.
Copyright lawyer and chairman of Creative Commons Larry Lessig gave a presentation about a year and a half ago in which he talks about the way that the younger generation’s perception of creativity and copyright has changed since their parents’. This generation has the tools and the desire to remix, mash-up and recreate the music they hear and the videos they watch and turn them into something new. The way they appreciate art is by engaging with it and making it their own.
Lessig suggests that the law has not greeted “this new use of culture using digital technologies” with much common sense. Common sense would have been to realize that times have changed, that digital technology has fundamentally altered the way that consumers and creators alike are able to produce, enjoy and interact with art. Common sense would have been for entities like the RIAA to acknowledge that fact and adapt business practices to be remain competitive in the emerging market.
Of course, that’s not what happened. Instead, “the architecture of copyright law and the architecture digital technologies as they interact have produced the presumptionthat these activities are illegal.” Lessig continues, “because if copyright law at it’s core regulates something called ‘copies’ than in the digital world the one fact we can’t escape is that every single use of digital technology produces a copy. Every single use therefore requires permission. Without permission you are a trespasser.”
So this presumption that remixes, mash-ups, videos or any other fan created content that uses copyrighted material are illegal has made nearly an entire generation guilty of breaking the law. I love it that he uses the word presumption – this is one of the foremost lawyers on copyright saying that what the RIAA believes about copyright law is not correct.
The RIAA has seen the internet and digital technology as a threat to their business, and responded by taking an extreme position regarding copyright law. This exaggerated version of copyright all but ignores the concept of fair-use and considers – wrongly – that every use of copyrighted material is illegal.
So they crack down, launching a huge legal offensive against just about everybody, including individual consumers suspected of violating their interpretation of copyright law. This in turn creates a growing backlash – both among those whose genuinely illegal activities were thwarted, and those whose legitimate fair-use was wrongly lumped together with piracy. Now the world is experiencing a “growing copyright abolitionism” says Lessig, “a generation that rejects the very notion of what copyright is supposed to do … and believes that the law is nothing more than an ass to be ignored and to be fought at every opportunity possible. The extremism on one side begets extremism on the other – a fact we should have learned many, many times over.”
You and I can’t control the RIAA. They have proven that they are out of touch with today’s digital culture and determined to snuff out any innovation that smells like it might disrupt the traditional models. We can influence the other side of the table, though.
Artists don’t have to get in bed with the RIAA. The new independent, DIY approach to a career in music is not just a pipe dream anymore – there are plenty of success stories to look to now. In this new marketplace the artists who recognize the value of openness will be the ones who succeed. The ones who see the benefit of allowing their fans to remix their tracks, or to produce amateur videos for their songs and spread them across the Internet.
Regardless of what we have been taught to believe recently, there is such a thing as fair use, and it’s in the artist’s best interests to allow it. [emphasis newsgrist's] Release your music under a more open license such as Creative Commons and see what happens. Let your fans do the promoting – if you give them a quality product and the freedom to use it the way they want use it they’ll do a surprisingly good job. Better than you could ever do, maybe even with a big-label marketing budget that only the top acts see anyway.
Thanks to Eugenia for the video.
This Op-Ed was originally published in Artnet Magazine, March 31, 2011.
As is well-known, the artist Richard Prince has lost his copyright infringement suit to the photographer Patrick Cariou [see Artnet News, March 21, 2011]. The decision is now pending an appeal. The news has prompted heated commentary by almost everyone, including copyright maximalists, photographers, collage artists, painters who use appropriated imagery, New York dealers and “open source” mavens. IP lawyers have written boilerplate statements, typically devoid of any nuance or even the most basic understanding of the visual arts. Artists and photographers who either bear Prince a personal grudge, or else find his and others’ methods of appropriation suspect, have trotted out the usual platitudes: "lazy" "thief" "millionaire." In fact, one would think from reading the comments sections of art blogs that Prince’s great crime was in being successful, and that copyright is a convenient tool for redistributing some of his wealth.
But copyright law is not about generating or artificially leveraging artists’ income. It is certainly not about redistributing deserved or undeserved wealth. Copyright is about regulating mass production. Its roots are in late 17th- and early 18th-century publishing and the globalization of the printing press (cf: Statute of Anne, ca. 1709). Long before digital technologies changed the game plan, copyright became a way to deal with the new global mass culture.
Later, photography, because it too relied on mass production and distribution, became reliant on copyright. Among other things, copyright could be wielded as a deterrent for those who might reproduce and profit from works without the permission of their authors. The problem lay in the fact that, with mass-produced works of literature, music or visual art, there is no inherent or tangible difference between an original and a copy. Obviously, this is not so for paintings, sculpture, etc. -- one-of-a-kind art objects. And authors of one-of-a-kind works have not conventionally relied on copyright to collect licensing fees or royalties, since there are no mass-produced copies that can be sold -- only originals. Hence, painters and sculptors have used different earning models, such as the gallery system, for selling their work.
Patrick Cariou comes out of photography culture, which is part of mass culture. Photography culture lives and breathes by licensing agreements and royalties, and through copyright. Richard Prince, comes out of a moment when artists were using “appropriation” as a tool to comment on and criticize mass production. His work has always referenced his source material, and hence mass culture itself. Part of the value of his work today, around which much of the case revolves, is based on his reputation as a critic of and commentator on mass culture.
For the disputed “Canal Zone” series, Prince took copies of photographs from Yes Rasta, Cariou’s book on Rastafarian culture (PowerHouse Books, 2000, $60). In other words, Prince re-used photographs that had been mass-produced in the form of a book, in order to make his collage-like paintings. To say that Cariou’s work was used as “raw material” is not to demean the work; it is simply a factual description of how the photographs were used. The “Canal Zone” series also incorporates works by other photographers, including some by the underground filmmaker Richard Kern. Prince took more than 40 of Cariou’s images, scanned them, blew them up, affixed them to enormous canvases, collaged and squeegeed them together with other elements, oil stick and paint, producing one-of-a-kind objects. These large-scale collaged paintings reference their sources by re-instituting them as singular objects. On that basis alone, Prince’s work is transformative -- a determining factor that U.S. District Court Judge Deborah A. Batts unfortunately chose to ignore.
What leaves me breathless is one particular irony, among the many that surround this case, regarding Judge Batts’ decision in the awarding of damages, which include, potentially, the destruction of the offending works. The very existence of Prince’s “Canal Zone” series is apparently now in peril, in part because no one seems to be able to tell the difference between a painting, which is a one-of-a-kind object, and a photograph, which is by definition mass-producible.
Hence the irony. Some things cannot be easily destroyed, and whatever Prince may have done with the mass-produced copies of Cariou’s photographs, the photographs themselves remain intact. But one-of-kind art objects, once disposed of, are deleted forever.
Image via Wired.
The Story So Far
Wikileaks is offering the diplomatic cables directly from their website, with 278 available from over 250,000 to be released in stages over the next few months. View them here, or any number of mirrors. Alternately, StateLogs lets you browse and search the complete collection.
The Guardian offered the best coverage, in my opinion, including a data dump of all the metadata in CSV format and on Google Fusion. The Guardian's liveblog from Monday showed how the story rolled out as it happened, and today's liveblog is an excellent up-to-the-minute list of the fallout.
Reuters country-by-country summary of the revelations in the release.
In a long interview with Forbes, Julian Assange says that half their leaks are from the private sector, they're getting an exponential increase in leaks, and are planning a leak for a major U.S. bank is up next in early 2011. Bank of America shares were down on the rumors. In today's interview with TIME, he says Hillary Clinton should step down.
If you're wondering about Assange's broader motivations for Wikileaks, this great post surfaces some of his earlier writing about hampering America's ability to keep secrets. (Or you can dig around yourself through his old blog, available from Archive.org.)
Personally, I'd love to hear more about James Ball, a data journalist who worked closely with Wikileaks to analyze the data. In this NBC Nightly News interview, he says he's not an employee, but in another Telegraph interview, says he's paid by Wikileaks. I'd love more details.
Marc Ambinder explains some of the technical details about how modern diplomatic cables are stored and transmitted. In short: PDFs in Outlook PST files transmitted over SIPRnet (which was disconnected last week) and then burned to a mislabeled CD while lip-syncing Lady Gaga.
You can download all the files yourself from the Pirate Bay.
Who supports Wikileaks?
Not many public figures!
Daniel Ellsberg, the former military analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times. In an NBC interview, the Bradley Manning of the 1970s said the release was "useful... and the public deserves to know." And Noam Chomsky, who also assisted with the Pentagon Papers.
In the media, the Guardian's Simon Jenkins wrote a compelling column defending Wikileaks, saying, "It is for governments - not journalists - to guard public secrets, and there is no national jeopardy in WikiLeaks' revelations." Salon's Glenn Greenwald, Slate's Jack Schafer, and The Economist's Will Wilkinson also defended Wikileaks.
The newspapers that had access to the material didn't take a position, but obviously felt the material was newsworthy. The New York Times discussed the decision to publish, and responded to readers' questions today.
In one of my favorite articles so far, the New Yorker's Blake Eskin draws parallels to Facebook and other online privacy scandals.
It won't surprise many that Pirate Bay cofounder Peter Sunde positions it as a free speech issue.
With its heavy libertarian streak, I'm surprised more prominent people in technology haven't spoken up.
Who's against Wikileaks?
Most US politicians, left and right, came out forcefully against Wikileaks. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: told reporters, "It is an attack on the international community, the alliances and partnerships, the conversations and negotiations, that safeguard global security and advance economic prosperity."
NATO condemned the release, saying "it endangers civilians and military personnel... It is illegal, irresponsible and dangerous."
George W. Bush, Senator Joe Lieberman. Rick Santorum calls the Wikileaks release "terrorism." Mike Huckabee wants Assange executed. Sarah Palin wrote on Facebook that Julian Assange is "an anti-American operative with blood on his hands."
Most world governments denounced Wikileaks. China won't comment on the contents of the leak, but blocked access to Wikileaks, citing the preservation of US-China relations. The Russian government wants to destroy Wikileaks before they leak KGB info. In the UK, Downing Street and Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP (Chairman of the UK Intelligence and Security Committee and former Foreign Secretary).
Wikipedia cofounder (and critic) Larry Sanger wrote that, "I consider you enemies of the U.S. — not just the government, but the people." He expanded on his view in a larger essay, stating, "Julian Assange is no hero. He is a twit... He gives hackers a bad name."
In The Middle?
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claims the release wasn't an accidental leak, but a psychological warfare campaign by the United States.
The Internet Responds
Taiwan's NMA News does the obligatory CG reenactment.
Dan Gillmor posed some thoughtful questions for Wikileaks, journalists, and the U.S. government.
Also: Julian Assange and Bradley Manning costumes from Halloween. (No Rule 34 yet, though.)
4chan could not be reached for comment.
via The Huffington Post, Oct 25, 2010:
The other day I stopped by Winkleman Gallery to see Joy Garnett's new paintings, and then hurried up to the Cort Theater where I had tickets to "Time Stands Still," a uniformly well-acted play featuring Laura Linney as a photojournalist, home from a stint in Iraq where she had been badly injured in a roadside bombing. The two shows made for an excellent double feature.
The play, by Donald Margulies, explores how artists' lives are affected by the passage of time. Sarah (Linney) and her journalist boyfriend Jamie (Brian d'Arcy James) have spent their twenties and thirties covering wars and other humanitarian disasters overseas. As the play begins, they have just returned to their gritty Williamsburg loft where Sarah, recovering from her injuries, chafes to get back to the action. Meanwhile, shell-shocked Jamie yearns for marriage and a comfortable life - maybe even a couple of kids - along the lines followed by their friends Richard (Eric Bogosian) and his very young fiancée (Christina Ricci).
Margulies, understanding the tradeoffs facing most serious artists, explores the dynamic that occurs when one partner is ready to put the action and ambition aside and the other is not. Living behind the camera and courting the risks of human folly have given Sarah a noble excuse to disengage. Looking through the lens has also afforded her the extraordinary sensation that time stands still. For Jamie, it has marched on. He comes to believe that they have spent decades of their lives under the illusion that their moments in hell perform an indispensable social role, leaving precious little time to do other less grandiose but more joyful, comforting things.
Joy Garnett's forceful new paintings capture the evanescent bursts of violence recorded by photojournalists (like fictional Sarah) around the world while also acknowledging the comfort of distance that softens the apprehension of a far-off war by an artist in her studio - and which Sarah disdains. Seeking to transform her secondary experience of the depicted events into something more authentic, Garnett culls photographs of military explosions from online sources, reconstituting the harrowing, split-second images using traditional oil paint and canvas. Painting fast and loose, she renounces exactitude to embrace clunky, restless brushwork that fuses painterly glee with exasperated rage, setting the explosions adrift from both their geographical and their political contexts.
Reinventing the news images as luscious paintings rich in art historical referents, Garnett's work, which she calls "apocalyptic sublime," might come off as glib and exploitative to some. But from Margulies' perspective, even if she's safe in the studio, enshrining the world's daily tragedies is worthy enough, and an acceptable existential compromise. A painter can't make real time stand still the way a great news photographer can. But Garnett's paintings force viewers to contemplate how ugly and destructive its procession can be, and proclaim that physical remove is no excuse for ignoring that reality.
"Joy Garnett: Boom & Bust," Winkleman Gallery, New York, NY. Through November 13, 2010.
"Time Stands Still," written by Donald Margulies, directed by Daniel Sullivan. The Cort Theater, New York, NY. Through January 23, 2011.
NYTimes photographer Joao Silva severely injured by a mine in Kabul
Image above right: Laura Linney and Brian d'Arcy James in "Time Stands Still." Courtesy Joan Marcus at New York
This piece was originally posted at Two Coats of Paint.
Follow Sharon L. Butler on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TwoCoats