Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Who Owns Culture?



One of my favourite, dedicated Montreal media activists, Patricia Bergeron, the project leader of Parole citoyenne, sent me this video, Who Owns Culture? this is a creative commons film, produced and by Lawerence Lessig, of a speech that he did roughly one year ago, about (of course) the detriment that the old laws of copyright have on our right to freedom/power of creative expression, and open contribution to our culture. He gives a brief history lesson of the "1st Napsters", those technological tools to pirate and/or share creative works of art of others, without paying royalties:

1. player piano companies -were making copies of sheet music - no royalties were paid to the composers
2. radio - broadcast free airwaves of music without paying performers
3. cable tv - antennaes to capture broadcast and sold to their viewers without paying the broadcasters
4. sony beta max - video recorder...basically a machine begging to pirate material.

...and now we have the abundance of digital technology and know-how to share and pirate, and create, and be users, makers, shares, and speakers...

and the past has shown us that when ever there has been a new technology that threatens the copyright law...the law has waited to let the technology evolve, before making an assesment of their destructive qualities ... and the law has always favoured the PIRATE. And, this is because, the positive creative capabilities of the technology have outweighed the destructive ones.

but...
DIGITAL technology is not allowed for this waiting/understanding period - there is an immediate demand, that the NEW techology fit the old law...NOW.

..and, this change from the past, is because it is no longer the CORPORATIONS engaging in piracy - it is the masses, and there has been a push to stop this collective sharing.

Lessig makes it clear that he is against Piracy - that you should not steal the works of artists, but that he is against this "war" on digital technology, and their future creative potential. That these creative tools can and are being used for more than just "hoarding" the artistic property of others, but can be used to make culture, and creatively contribute to our understanding of culture and our surrounds. Especially this boom in re-appropriation, and jamming of mainstream media and culture...the Digital Creativity - remixes and mash-ups, and re-expression of culture, and the tools to share these new creative .

and then he puts it out to us (the contributors!)...that the discussion needs to be turned from the "experts" and that this debate needs to observed in its "natural" techno-online environment, and away from the arguers, and those paid to argue:

lawyers
lobbiests
"lessigs"

- but to listen to the creators, and the future creators.

This is definitly a neat little video, with fun web-famous mashups and remixes included, made by the your average culture contributor and their home computer...who are taking this exciting power of expression and the tools we have, to make them their own shareable contibution and commentary to our culture.

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