Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

Hilary Rosen on Larry Lesig’s blog

Posted by shannonclark on August 15, 2005

I left a comment on Lawrence Lessig‘s blog.

An example for you – and really just the tip of the iceberg.
From a recent interview in Paste Magazine ( Beck says ?The only difference is that it?s pretty much impossible to clear samples now. We had to stay away from samples as much as possible. The ones that we did use were just absolutely integral to the feeling or rhythm of the song. But, back then, it was basically me writing chord changes and melodies and stuff, and then endless records being scratched and little sounds coming off the turntable. Now it?s prohibitively difficult and expensive to justify your one weird little horn blare that happens for half of a second one time in a song and makes you give away 70 percent of the song and $50,000,? he laughs. ?That?s where sampling has gone, and that?s why hip-hop sounds the way it does now.?
Pretty much says it all.
If an artist with Beck?s level of success in the past, and likely future successes, can?t express himself via sampling and remixing in the ways he would creatively like to, we are indeed seeing works being stifled and limited.
Outside of music a very similar problem exists in print publication – where the long common practice of quotes and citations is increasingly being prohibited by publishers. If even academic works are being stifled in fairly clear fair use situations, again works are being stifled.
In essense the demand by many owners of content that not only do they own it nearly in perpetuity (continually extending the life of copyrights meaning that the public domain stops somewhere in the 1920?s), as well as the ever more restrictive environment for anyone interested in using works of others as components of their work makes it ever smaller the domains where people can comfortably and legally operarate.

Indeed I wonder if great works of are such as the collages of Matisse or others would be allowed in todays environment – or would the artist and his (or her) representatives have to clear each image and item they reuse and repurpose – each little corner of paper. (not to mention would Warhol be able to do what he did with Cambell Soup Cans?)

Im a technologist and writer. When I create I want to be able to create in the ways that my muse dictates – however if, say I wanted to write a story which mentions brand names, which quotes from other publications, which uses real places – I may have resistance from publishers. And when it, if it is, is tried to be made into another medium – TV or Film for example, each of those brands would (in todays environment) only be used if that placement were paid for. (it is a source of personal annoyance and pain when in a reality show there are no real brands just fake ones, a few paid placements, and lots of blurred areas).

Sometime soon I think there will have to be a backlash to this blurring of reality.

Real people operate in a world of brands – in a world of content from many sources – the music and tv clips in the background of many peoples private films of reality means that those same clips cannot (today) be shown in a movie theater or put on TV without great expense due to the enforcement of many different rightsholders.

(see the example that Lessig cites frequently of the man who made a film that won awards at Cannes for a cost of about $400 but would cost 1000x to clear all the rights if he wanted to show it here in the US. That is stifling creativity.)



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