If We Copyright Nothing will be Copyleft

I have no problem with people sharing my music online, in fact I welcome it. (But to anyone selling my music without cutting me a piece of the pie – “May a thousand Ceti eels stream into your ears.”)

The piracy debate is ill framed and misleading. Sharing music is not equable to theft and copyright laws need to catch up with a rapidly changing media scape of cascading cultural collisions.

When I was younger my entire music catalog at one point (before a healthy addiction to vinyl kicked in) was on shared cassette tapes and I would never have had access to certain types of music and culture without it.

My love of stand up comedy comes from a 12th generation cassette copy of a barely audible Eddie Murphy being seduced by Mr T, and a highly toxic copy of Kevin Bloody Wilson cursing out Santa.

I listened to my taped copy of Metallica’s Master of Puppets so intensely that the B side wore through to the A side and was audible backwards underneath, but there were no evil messages to speak of except of course the ubiquitous “Home Taping Is Killing Music“.

There was such a disconnect between the message and the reality that it always struck my cynic bone and set my bull shit alarm a-tingling.

How exactly was home taping killing music? I was devouring it everyday, buying T-Shirts when I could, albums when I could.

The music lived!

The label should have read “Home Taping is Killing our Business Model (and we don’t like it).” instead.

Actually, now that I think about, it I cannot remember a time the music industry wasn’t in dire jeopardy at the hands of some ubiquitous and new fangled technology.

Here is a TED talk by YouTube staffer Margaret Stewart on how YouTube is dealing with copyright.

Given that 100 years worth of Video is uploaded to YouTube everyday, that may or may not contain media someone claims copyright to, they have a lot of data to sift every second and she explains a little  about how they go about doing it.

Of interest to me is the “If you can’t beat ’em co-opt ’em” policy that has evolved on YouTube and I personally hope to see more of this in the future. It basically happens when, instead of pulling a video for copyright infringement, as Prince tried to do when there was a video of a kid dancing to his song “Lets go Crazy” in a home video, the copyright owner rather piggy backs on the new views (and… gasp!… free advertising) their media are getting and have YouTube plonk an ad and link to the “original” content from the descendant.

Lawrence Lessig clearly outlines how certain copyright thought is not in our best cultural interests in this TED talk and I wholeheartedly agree.

Notions of artistic originality and creativity are already being radically revised, instinctively, by a wave of read/write netizens who create as well as consume and the idea that we cannot conscientiously borrow from existing culture and share ideas to express ourselves is absurd.