Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Hey! I Invented a new word! Plagiarism!

This week we talked a lot about remix culture and copyright.  I really found the video series interesting.  I had heard about this sort of thing but was not aware of the extent of remix culture and the video itself was extremely well done. 

It is difficult to find what I think on this topic.  On the one hand, I think that copyright laws can definitely hamper creativity especially when presented with the extent of it in the videos.  I thought it was neat to see what artists and filmmakers were able to create when inspired by what they had seen.  On the other hand, I do think that an artist or a company deserves the right to make money off of what they have created.  If I had an ounce of artistic talent and was able to create something that people might actually purchase, I would like the chance to make a little money off my work.  With this in mind, I can't really blame people who pursue copyright infringers.  Obviously this has gone too far as well as can be seen by the copyright trolls or the ridiculousness of the smartphone lawsuits.  ("we invented slide and unlock" Seriously!) 

I think we can agree that the system is broken but what is the solution?  I am unconvinced that some sort of "everyone creates for the good of the world thing" would work.  Artists, writers, inventors and other creators can't work for free and I think we can agree that voluntary support donations are not going to work either.   Somehow, they need to be able to monetize their work without locking up all the ideas from the rest of us until they are useless as inspiration.  I was intrigued by Joseph Gordon-Levitt's movement from last week but this model does not allow for varying degrees of talent as far as I know.  Would an unknown artist who provides some images deserve the same amount as Steven Spielberg who lends his name and film making talent to the project?

Perhaps what we really need is intelligent jurisprudence.  When a lawsuit is brought in front of a judge, reasonable limits on copyright need to be set which consider the fact that future discoveries will need inspiration from the item under review.  Similarly, when a copyright challenge is brought into a courtroom, reasonable thought needs to win out.  An artist can't lock in a three beat bass line forever and thought must be given to the fact that future songwriters will need to become inspired from past music. 

Also, perhaps permissions and credit should be given a little more readily.  If someone wants to sample your track, the right thing would be to allow it. (especially as it could probably be suggested that you yourself have sampled in the past).  Similarly, artists will need to be a little more open to crediting their inspirations and sampling sources which perhaps may lead to actual profit sharing. A problem here, of course, is that at its essence, capitalism is largely based on greed which does not work well with sharing. 

Perhaps what we need to do is be more creative.  More creative with profit sharing, more creative in monetizing work, more creative in creating and more creative in ways to live cooperatively together.  Perhaps we simply need to remember what the immortal Bill and Ted taught us "Be Excellent to each other!"

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