Copyright: Lawrence Lessig on a Read/Write Culture

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Copyright: Lawrence Lessig on a Read/Write Culture

Postby Spots » October 17th, 2013, 1:57 pm

People have been sharing that video of Game of Thrones that's remixed. I love it to death. Do our improv shows based on Game of Thrones fall into the same category?

Are we remixing and creating new messages? As artists are we pirating content/characters and therefore obscuring the greater issue? I don't know. But the debate is coming to a head. Lawrence Lessig has an amazing message here:

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Re: Copyright: Lawrence Lessig on a Read/Write Culture

Postby Brad Hawkins » October 17th, 2013, 5:35 pm

I am of course not a lawyer (I would love to see our AIC law-talkin'-guys chime in) but it seems to me that improv shows are safe from copyright claims as it's totally transformative... no author's words, no actors' performances, and not a single frame of film was harmed in the making of this prov. Trademark is another matter, but most improv shows in this town skirt the issue by focusing on genre rather than property. The Professor doesn't call itself "Doctor Who" for example.

But there are other uses of intellectual property attendant upon the art we make. A recent example was Tom's use of a song in an advertisement, which was rejected for copyright reasons from whatever service he was hosting it on. I'm of two minds about that.

First: If I were a musical artist -- let's say I was Bruce Springsteen -- I would certainly want to exercise control over what contexts my work gets put in. Sure, Tom Booker and the Institution theater are benign, and if I were the Boss I would have no objection to my song being used in their promos. But I would (and did, in Mr. Springsteen's case) have an objection to my song being used as an anthem at the Republican National Convention. So yes, in theory, I think artists should be consulted when it comes to how their art is used.

Complication: Artists often aren't in control of how their art is used. In the case of music, licensing companies like ASCAP, SESAC and BMI are. It's a convoluted obstacle course, as one song can have lots of different publishers, each of which needs to give permission. I haven't even been able to find a rough estimate on how much licensing music costs.

There are probably companies who exist for the sole purpose of negotiating with these licensors, but I don't see how truly independent (no studio backing, no corporate infrastructure, no money) artists are supposed to do it.

So where does that leave us? I've been thinking about that a lot lately, as I've had the desire to put the movies I made in high school up on the internet, but they use commercial music for which I haven't secured any rights. Is there even a law that could be drafted which allows small artists the use of intellectual property if there is no money to be gained (make no mistake: Simply using a song in a video is not considered fair use by any definition I've ever seen, and I've looked pretty hard), but still allows artists the ability to refuse to have their visions be co-opted and perverted? It seems pretty daunting.
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Re: Copyright: Lawrence Lessig on a Read/Write Culture

Postby Jon Bolden » October 18th, 2013, 9:44 am

Easier to ask for forgiveness!
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Re: Copyright: Lawrence Lessig on a Read/Write Culture

Postby Spots » October 22nd, 2013, 8:52 pm

Brad Hawkins wrote:Complication: Artists often aren't in control of how their art is used. In the case of music, licensing companies like ASCAP, SESAC and BMI are. It's a convoluted obstacle course, as one song can have lots of different publishers, each of which needs to give permission. I haven't even been able to find a rough estimate on how much licensing music costs.


I've always placed use of songs and use of intellectual property in 2 different categories. I don't know if this is a double standard. Two categories are clearly outlined in my brain.


I suppose the semantic argument exists that would place the two side by side:

1.) the use of an author's fictional reality & fictional characters without the author being present

2.) an unmistakable recording of a band playing their unmistakable song



Those are clearly two different things with totally different implications, despite similarity in any legal sense.
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Re: Copyright: Lawrence Lessig on a Read/Write Culture

Postby Spots » November 6th, 2013, 6:23 pm

This issue isn't even about legality in my opinion. It's about destroying roadmaps that lead others far far away from inspiration.


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