Thursday, November 17, 2005

So apparently there's a lobbying group devoted to making intellectual property protection even stronger. My opinion of that is here, or, to summarize, "shove it". And by the way, the collection of illegal art I mentioned in that post, or something very similar to it, can be found here.

Here's the really fundemental question: is parody theft?

There's more to it than just theft vs. not-theft, and it applies to many more forms of expression than just parody, but if you had to boil the issue down to three words, those would be the ones. Are culture and existing art legitimate subjects for commentary? Artists and entertainers stand on the shoulders of giants all the time, but is there a legal or ethical principle that forbids them from doing so while that giant is alive? (More relevantly, and to me the question is so clear-cut that asking it is ridiculous, is there a principle that forbids them from doing so while the corporation that employed that giant still exists?)

With the kind of name that George Orwell vilified, the Progress and Freedom Foundation thinks the answers to those questions are "No" and "Yes" respectively.

This isn't really a new phenomenon, even though the technology involved makes it seem that way. I don't see any difference between this and the guilds in pre-industrial European cities that existed to keep the senior craftmen on top, or even to some of the occasional excesses of how unions have done business. It's not in the remotest sense about art or innovation, and it's only about property and individual rights to the extent that they're necessary to the MPAA and RIAA. Simply put, this push to extend copyrights into perpetuity, overturn Sony v. Universal Studios* and outlaw what it now called "fair use" is about keeping those on top, on top.

Via Matt Stoller at MyDD.

* My earlier thoughts on the legality of file-sharing can be found here. But let me clarify something - just because I understand and agree with the Court's ruling on the legality of this specific case, doesn't mean I like MGM's stance in any of the larger issues.

1 comment:

Matt Stoller said...

Ending fair use is an attempted return to feudalism, digital style.