“When I was a kid, there were two things I wanted badly and never got… A real dog and a Kenner AT-AT Walker.” (Patrick Boivin)
Those lawyers who are on the side of reinforcing copyright laws have well-honed arguments. They really do. In fact, they ought to, it’s their job. But something greater is at stake here. Creativity.
The music biz’s lawyers have notoriously argued for more copyright legislation. Take Lyor Cohen, for example. He’s Chairman and CEO of Warner Music Group. Responsible for signing the likes of Jay-Z, DMX, Slick Rick, EPMD, Ja Rule. Oh yes, he was also the road manager of Run-DMC (btw, love them… huge fan). He is credited for having played an integral part in hip-hop for the last 25 years. Rightly so.
In an interview Cohen gave to Complex, a glossy life-style magazine, he was asked about the viability of free music as a business model. The answer: “If it’s free, then how would record labels pay their staff and sign new artists?”
Pay the staff? Packed in nice top-floor offices in NY and LA? Is this what copyright is all about? How does that protect the artist? Seriously. We all know that copyright only moderately protects the artist but wholly enriches the supporter and enabler of a dated business model that seems to leave out any practical understanding of the web.
On the other hand, Berkman Center Professor and writer David Weinberger says “that the web enables us to rediscover what we’ve always known about being human: we are connected creatures in a connected world about which we care passionately.” And that goes for creativity too. Everything is connected. “Whether it’s Walt Disney recycling the Brothers Grimm, Stephen King doing variations on a theme of Bram Stoker, or James Joyce mashing Homer up with, well, everything, there’s no innovation that isn’t a reworking of what’s already there.” To not recognize this and not be transparent is hypocritical and leads to loss of credibility.
Let’s be transparent about Canada’s bill C-32. It’s irrelevant.
Here’s Weinberger again: “So, I don’t know how the law should change. I’m not a lawyer or legislator. But what’s at stake isn’t whether some of us get music without paying for it but the type of world we’re building. We have the chance to move from a world based on scarcity and greed to one built on abundance and generosity. And the effect will be evolutionary growth ….unless we stay really stupid about it.”
Let users decide what to do. We’ll break the authority all the institutions, government and corporations have had.
My web is your web is our web…
If you’ve seen Exit Through the Gift Shop by Banksy, you know the artist behind this bit of street art. His name is Mr Brainwash. Whether you like this is irrelevant. The point is that Mr. Brainwash creates by copying. And he continues to do so. Banksy himself does not go so far as to call him an impostor, but he clearly implies it. But is anyone listening? Not the art world anyway, which does not see this as plagiarism but as outright invention. In fact, the belief is that he’s using other works to create altogether new art with a signature all its own, much like Youtube phenom Patrick Boivin is doing by the way.
So no this cheeky mash-up is not restricted to the web. Mr. Brainwash is all the craze in the art world right now. And copying is not showing signs of relenting. You don’t even have to be paying attention to recognize it. Hip Hop music has been doing this forever.
The point is copyright may very well be choking creativity. Rip: Remix Manifesto by Brett Gaylor touches on this. Gaylor uses the recording artist Girl Talk as the poster child of remix culture. This film makes a case for what’s wrong with copyright right now. And Canada’s current bid to redefine copyright with bill C-32 is still a further example of what’s wrong and will continue to be wrong with copyright.
Take the thriving fashion industry, for example, where there’s no copyright to speak of. A dress, no matter who designed it, is part of the public domain. While there is trademark protection in the fashion industry, there’s very little intellectual property protection.
Check out Johanne Blakley: Lessons from Fashion’s Free Culture, yet another indictment of copyright. She challenges the widely accepted notion that “without ownership of copyright there is no incentive to innovate.” Blakley argues that the absence of copyright in the fashion industry actually opens up the creative process. Copying, says Blakley, encourages the democratization of culture, speeds up trends and ensures the acceleration of creative innovation. In the end, it’s all good for the bottom line. The global and economic success of high end design speaks for itself.
Blakley compares gross sales of low intellectual property industries (food, fashion, automobile) with high intellectual property (films, books, music) industries. And wouldn’t you know it, low intellectual property industries fared far, far better. Numbers don’t lie.
What are the film, music and book industries waiting for to copy this revolutionary business model?
At any rate, those who are vying for more copyright restrictions will be on the wrong side of history. Just look at the sclerotic music business.
So if you want to stay ahead of the curve, copy.
We were back in NY recently and this is what happened to the piece…
Director Jérémie Saindon and Producer Valérie d’Auteuil hanging out at the Radio-Canada Toronto office waiting for an interview to discuss L’Anniversaire in competition at the CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival.
The CFC Festival has a phenomenal selection of shorts featuring the very best from around the world. It’s really cool to be part of the 2010 selection. We’d like to thank Danny Lennon (Prends ça court and relentless promoter of Quebec Shorts) and of course Festival Director, Eileen Arandiga.
Hearty congratulations to Jean Malek who got the nod for best Canadian Short with his very poetic Les Poissons (Vanessa Pilon, Stéphanie Lapointe).
Julie Le Breton donning makeup to play a lonely single mother in Jérémie Saindon’s dramatic short L’Anniversaire (Birthday).
Le Breton and her two boys anxiously await the afternoon’s family birthday party. But a moment of passion for one ignites a moment of irrevocable change for the other.
After screening at Cannes’ Short Film Corner, it is playing at the CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival.
“A six day celebration of the latest and greatest in short film and video from around the world,” says this quote lifted from their website. It kicked off June 1st.
Stephan Dubreuil, Valérie d’Auteuil and Jérémie Saindon are off to Toronto to represent the film in competition.
As well as catching this year’s selection of the world’s best short movies and meet upcoming directors.