Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill
policy-making, technical standards development, and technological
innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we
know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property
conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of
copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying
and the law, and more.
Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this weblog are those of the authors and not of their respective institutions.
In the blog entry from March, Richard Fink points out some clear evidence that Typekit either isn't working as designed or is putting up misleading copyright information. Fink uses the word "fraud" but in the comment back and forth with Typekit's Jeffrey Veen, Fink admits that he may be guilty of unnecessary hyperbole. Veen's defense, that he (and Typekit) don't know how to write licenses and so may be guilty of bad wording at worst, may be true but seems like sloppy work. Is there no one at Creative Commons or other organization that could help out here?
One other tech link I saw in Fink's post is worth surfacing here: The League of Moveable Type, an organization dedicated to the production and distribution of free and open fonts for use on the Web and elsewhere.
Byrne's blog post notes that he has always maintained a no-ad use (though I seem to recall him appearing in some non-US ads possibly without Talking Heads music) and makes the point that the use of a person's music may imply some kind of endorsement. Ironically, Byrne notes that when McCain got sued by Jackson Browne part of the settlement (McCain lost) was an agreement by the RNC to obtain licenses in the future. I guess Crist forgot about that part of upholding law and order.
According to a piece in Billboard magazine on the suit, Byrne has retained the same attorney who represented Browne and who presumably was part of those settlement negotiations. Byrne is asking for USD 1 million in damages, a symbolic amount to be sure, but (again, according to Billboard) it's representative of the amounts Byrne has been offered in the past for use of his material.
If the Cartel had any soul at all it would be filing amicus briefs on Byrne's behalf. But I'm not holding my breath.
This video, called "Walking On Eggshells: Borrowing Culture in the Remix Age" is a documentary produced as a final project for a Yale course titled "Intellectual Property in the Digital Age". In the documentary, the three student filmmakers interview a variety of creative types (artists, writers, and lawyers) and muse on the society and technology of the remix. In a way it's a paean to the art form, and it's also a plea to the forces of the Cartel please to leave this form be, to let it nurture and grow.
Everyone in the film seems quite aware that remixing is appropriation and appropriation is at best questioned and at worst punished. And yet, it's what they do. It's what's expected. It is, as I've said before, the culture of the next generation. It's the background assumption. The only question to be answered is how long will people like this have to walk on eggshells before the law and business learn to adapt to this mode of doing and treat it with cooperation rather than trying to exterminate it. The "mystique of authorship" is not just unnecessary, it's counterproductive.
But as Virginia Heffernan explains in a New York Times Magazine piece from last month, the size and quantity of self-published material is now more than double that produced by traditional (big) publishing houses. And the trend strongly favors the self-publishers, with a 180%+ rise in volume produced year-over-year while the big guys are down another fraction. Vanity it may be, but it's gotten cheap enough, easy enough, and dare we hope popular enough that it can be done by anyone with something to say.
The question now is whether the self-publishing industry will be a victim of its own success. One of the things that publication from a major house gets you is at least some level of review and editing, which people take as at least a first-order measure of quality. What will become the markers for quality in self-publishing? Every social media site has some kind of populist like/rate system but how useful is that?
...even if the (current) music industry dies the death it seems so richly to deserve. So assures us Marc Weidenbaum , publisher of the online electronic 'zine Disquiet. Normally, Disquiet only has things to say about its musical topics, which are primarily ambient and electronic music.
However, in the May issue of The Atlantic, editor Megan McArdle took to task the current generation of "freeloaders", complaining that "...a generation of file-sharers is ruining the future of entertainment." Are we, now? Responding to the news that last year was yet another dismal year for the recording portion of the Cartel, McArdle recites figures that lament the aging of the music acts that pull in big bucks. She's apparently completely unaware of the club scene, the DJ scene, the remix scene or - frankly - anything that someone under 30 would consider modern, new, interesting music.
It's true that if your concert tickets are $200 each then you're not going to get a lot of young people at your shows. But really is that something wrong with the audience, or with your ticket price? It seems that McArdle is confusing a couple of different concepts here.
Weidenbaum points out another fundamental contradiction in the piece - the conflation of "the music industry" with "musicians." And to point out that contradiction he wrote a response and commissioned something very much like a musical (ambient) score to go along with that response. He asked ambient musicians to riff on the illustration that accompanied the Atlantic piece (which itself might have been technically a copyright violation) and then he goes to town on McArdle.