Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law,
I agree with Martijn that capitalism has no real place with art, but only
under conditions where it damages the art and the integrity of the artist
through its exploitation as capital. Big business in the music industry is
a good example because such business usually only prostitutes itself before
the lowest common denominator. It seems the consensus among old school
Metallica fans is that Metallica has gone 'soft' musically and morally
because they have become commercialized, or 'domesticated'. Considering
they initially became popular within the hair metal scene because bootlegs
of their tapes circulated freely, I think this is justified. Modern art is
in the same situation, what passes for the surreal these days is a roll of
ass-paper nailed to the forehead of Christ.
Otherwise, as far as I know, international intellectual copyright laws were
extended internationally to encourage competition among industries and under
certain conditions this seems fair. My only problem with this is that
unlike money, when an idea is exchanged both parties profit. This raises
the issue of the difference between property rights and moral rights and
their appropriate use. Property rights seem to ensure not only profit but
protection, although moral rights are meant to do the latter by protecting
an original work from mutilation. I suspect the Internet would have
remained underground, its potential untapped, if AT&T said they'd keep their
version of Unix in the public domain. Although I also suspect that had the
Coptic church prevailed instead of Rome (the Copts never sought to institute
their church as state), we might have a version of Christianity that doesn't
have to be rebooted once a week.
Love is the law, love under will
On Mon, 5 Mar 2001, Bill Heidrick wrote:
> >It's a stance I share, because I feel capitalism has no
> >place in art or entertainment. Art is an essential
> >necessity and no living being should be deprived from it.
> Some sense to that, so long as you don't mind forcing the artists to
> making art through need of food and shelter.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
That would be a much more compelling argument if the majority of artists
worked full-time as artists or if art had suddenly sprung into existence
with the advent of copyright. Or if there had been no religion until
holding corporations were formed to enforce exclusive copyright on texts
marketed as received wisdom but assigned to temporal authorship for
To argue that copyright is a prerequisite for artistic production is
basically to ignore the entirety of human history up to the last century.
In recent years, the argument has come most often from entities seeking an
expansion of copyright monopolies to what had previously been public
domain -- such as the factual content of databases -- on the grounds that
no one will compile databases without such monopolies, despite the fact
that the entities making the loudest complaints are typically companies
that have been compiling and selling databases for decades.
It is arguable that copyrights of long duration such as we have today
serve only to disincentivize creativity by encouraging content owners to
milk a few profitable titles with essentially permanent copyrights, secure
in the knowledge that they need neither create new content nor enhance
existing content once a popular product line has been assembled. One need
only look at recent publications of early 20th century occult texts, with
copyrights either expired or about to expire, to see what a goad to
creativity the loss of copyright can be. Granted, sometimes this is fluff
in the form of footnotes and typesetting, but content owners can on
occasion be prodded into releasing hard-to-find, long out-of-print, or
previously unavailable material in this way.
The real danger posed by copyright, and which IMHO outweighs any of its
benefits, is the manner in which the scope of copyright continually
increases. Fair use is now virtually moribund, the penalties for violating
copyright now often exceed those for lesser crimes like aggravated rape,
and the free exchange of information that made possible the rise of
science and democracy following the collapse of the church is under
increasingly fierce attack.
Given the stakes, the idea that the price of intellectual freedom might be
slightly reduced profits for Britney Spears or Samuel Weiser is somewhat
less than chilling.
Love is the law, love under will.
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