By James Pew
I am writing this note in response to the noise being generated on New Music Strategies. Specifically, two of Andrews Dubber’s posts dealing with the intellectual property issue that affects the music industry, and all industries that produce intellectual property. How Long Should Copyright Be? – last time I checked had 138 comments. Why Give Music Away For Free? – well over a hundred comments.
My position is that Dubber is the calm and steady voice of reason on New Music Strategies. The discussion is a fascinating study of Copyright and the digital age. The topic of Lessig, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Creative Commons, among others are a big part of the intense debate which offers some clarity, but also contains a lot of confusing and often polarizing ideologies. In many cases, and perhaps I’m guilty of this as well, you start seeing what looks like User Generated Propaganda…which makes it a challenge for people not close to the issue to understand it.
Everyone must decide for themselves because it is an issue that impacts everyone. Not just content producers, but content users. We all belong to one, if not both of those groups. Never-the-less, it is an important discussion that deserves our attention.
In response to views that seem more interested in demonizing Lessig than considering his ideas and ideas associated with the Free Culture movement. Tragedy and Farce: An Analysis of the Book FREE CULTURE, written by Thomas D. Sydnor II Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for the Study of Digital Property at The Progress & Freedom Foundation, seems void of the typical stuff intelligent people have come to expect from an analysis. Terms like quasi-socialist utopianism, and the way in which they repeat and reinforce them with other invented correlations to the cold war communist movement. It reads and feels like propaganda aimed to associate so-called quasi-socialist utopianism, with the widely held opinion that copyright laws are not perfect.
Being “quasi-”anything implies not being genuine. The word socialist is attached to any idea that challenges neo conservative convention. And Utopianism implies foolishness. “Quasi-Socialist Utopianism” is a pretty powerful catch phrase with all sorts of scary associations held by the general public. But where is the argument? What does Sydnor propose we do to improve Intellectual Property Law? What would he do to ensure that “locked down,” orphaned works of art don’t dissolve in their canisters? Or does he care? And there are a lot more people, with a lot more questions – check out the debate on News Music Stratgies
Sydnor’s paper chooses to find fault in Lessigs character and provides little real analysis of Lessigs ideas. Where on the other hand Lessig’s book, Free Culture, reads like a well-argued analysis backed by facts and historical record. Free Culture is a great book that expresses a view held by many regardless of where they fit on the political spectrum.
Here are two quotes from an of analysis of Sydnor’s paper, that you can read on arstechnica :
Sydnor routinely plucks statements from context to give them a meaning different from, or even directly opposed to, Lessigs fairly clear intent.
All of which is to say that Tragedy and Farce is a hyperbolic and stunningly dishonest screed, remarkable less for any contribution it makes to the debate over intellectual property and more for the fact that a well-funded Washington think-tank saw fit to publish it..
I’m not a pirate or a communist and neither is Lawrence Lessig, or Andrew Dubber, or anyone else who thinks Lessig has some cool ideas. Creative Commons is pretty cool…thanks for that one Larry.
Many people feel that it is a broken copyright system that robs Canadians of experiences like Pandora – and countless other, would-be innovations for curatorially filtered, socially recommended, and in Pandora’s case, music customized to personal taste by matching a songs “genetic” structure, and its relationship, the science of Distance Function, to a users preferred sonic, aesthetic, and generic characteristics. Pandora’s method is the Music Genome Project. Check out the video below for a full explanation of Pandora and The Music Genome Project.
It is copyright laws that prevent Canadian’s access to Pandora. As someone producing great artists and trying to get an indie label off the ground, I could really take advantage of what Pandora has to offer that could help connect the artists on Broken Window Records to their best suited potential fans.
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In Defence Of Lessig by James Pew is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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