Monday, December 22, 2008


Today's Fresh Air featured an interview with Lawrence Lessing, a law professor who's been working on issues of copyright in the new media marketplace and who is the chair of the Creative Commons organization.

Terri Gross is entirely overrated as an interviewer, and though perhaps some Volvo-driving middle-aged white people have merlotgasms over her incisive questions, here she just does a somewhat passable job of Devil's advocate in between descending into misunderstanding fits of giggles. (I exaggerate a bit, but I still don't see why I should be in awe of this woman).

There's an interesting anecdote about John Philip Sousa railing against the phonograph, that infernal machine which caterwauled day and night and had destroyed the old amateur culture of group singing and non-professional instrument playing. Well, machines did completely destroy that, and the 20th century was a long period of decline in amateur craftsmanship and creativity as huge media groups controlled the mechanisms of mass distribution. Everyone could play professionally-produced CDs and watch fancy movies full of fiery explosions made by TV commercial directors, but they had no power to use, reuse, parodize, build on, and spread around what they were enjoying. The internet is changing that, and the giant corporations are violently thrashing around refusing to accept it. Let me rephrase, with my typical color:

You allow giant corporations to own you as a slave and fuck you in the mouth so often and so deep that you can no longer speak. You don't mind choking on sweaty phallus because the corporation gives you diamonds and fur coats to wear. When, at last, you discover a way to speak through your nose, and discover that having that voice is better than wearing fur coats and diamonds while a fat greasy CEO slaps his flapping nuts against your chin, the CEO is affronted and tries to beat you to death with a rubber hose. BUT YOU WILL NOT DIE. Inspiring, non?


One place to follow up would be a CBC Ideas feature about much the same subject. Public broadcasting, in Canada just like here, makes some excellent investigative reporting that nobody watches because they're too busy sniffing glue and vegetating in front of Momma's Boys or reruns of Friends. Oh well.

Also, Congress gave itself a phat pay raise. Yes, the same blowhards who worked themselves into histrionic fits of crocodile tears and false rage over CEO bonuses just rewarded themselves for failing to deal with the auto industry bailout and punting oversight of it to Emperor Cheney and Assistant Emperor Bush, and the thousand other letdowns they've foisted upon us lately. In searching for a link to this story, I found it confusing: there's been a story like this every year, for years. Never mind, then. We obviously don't care what they do to us.

Also, Happy Holidays! MitE will be out soon to help you celebrate.

1 comment:

Sydney MacLean said...

Your choice of words left me feeling so used and dirty that, for a second, I thought I lost my virginity all over again.

There was a brilliant article written not long ago about the issues surrounding intellectual copyrights on digital material:

As a budding young red blooded socialist, I don't think its conscionable any longer to limit the exposure of the populace to art (however low brow), which should be the right of the citizenry. The trick is developing a system which benefits the creator, the publisher (who is investing their capital, after all), and the populace.

My gut says we need to expand the NEA, but really... it's a tough problem, but the publishers aren't thinking about the social good. They are going to fight with indignity yelling about how we are trying to steal from the artist, when really we are just trying to get around their wildly inflated markup on their investment because any loss of money for them sets a president.

I think we need a method whereby distribution is available to everyone and the publishers receive grants based on the public interest in their product. Of course, other systems would have to be in place for guys like us who like to work on our little indie projects.