Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Some Thoughts on Intelectual Property

Let me begin by saying that I do accept that there is this thing called "intellectual property." Let me also say that I believe that artists and and intelectuals (of various sorts), should be compensated for their production of intelectual property: art and ideas. I also believe that those who distribute this "property" should also be compensated, though I see nothing that would prohibit the artist from being her or his own distributor.
I first became aware of the current round of the clash between the internet and recording companies over the use and distribution of intelectual property, namely music and music videos thanks to Cao's Blog; (which I happened upon either through Blogexplosion, or browsing Blogorama. In Today's New York Times there is also an ;article on this and Warner's agreement with YouTube.
Some observations: The deal between YouTube and Warner seems reasonable if as one of the comments in the article notes, a bit complex. The deal makes sense to me because it seems that If I make use of an artists material and am not making money off said use I see no way that said use should be seen as infringement of intelectual property rights, as long as the person is given credit, and another artist is not claiming to be original in the use of the material.
My sense of intelectual property is of course was developed in the academic disciplines of the university, so I am thinking in terms of fair use and giving credit where credit is due. In a sense it is about being able to trace links between works and ideas. From this perspective it is about the flow of ideas and the collective interaction between artists and thinkers through citation.
The other observation is that recording companies seem to be caught up in a very atomistic view of intelectual property, everythign is supposedly in descrete units and I am merely a consumer of a product. I find this view objectionable, it cannot account for the reality that ideas and creativity inspire further creativity and other ideas. But then I think the invention of the category "consumer" isuch that companies only veiw the population only as such and that in certain modes I am in term only to view myself as such is a dehumanizing move.
The question is can artists and intelectuals (and those who distribute their works) preserve their ability to make a living through their artistic and intelecual work, in the midst of a free flowing means of disimination such as the internet. I think so.
In part this is so because the ability to cite and trace connections does not disappear, in fact much of blogging is doing simply this linking and attribution as I have done at the beginning of this post.
As a visual artist I would say that if you purchased a piece of art from me and then reproduced it (part or whole) within a work of art of your own but did not make money off of it, one I would be flattered two I would expect to be explicitly linked to your art, and that would be all. If how ever you sold the piece as well it would seem appropriate for me to also be compensated in someway beyond citation. In that sense the YouTube and Warner agreement makes sense given that presumably YouTube does make money through adverstising revenue, while presumably the creater of the piece shown on YouTube is not making money through it being shown.

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