Oct. 14 Responses

Oct. 14 Readings

In this chapter, Burkhart's goal was to explore how "changes in IP law and telecom policy" effect the behavior of music fans and how these changes disturb the established norms of the music industry as a whole. He also discusses the concept of DRM and "Ubiquitous DRM." Burkhart identifies four groups of cyberliberties activists throughout the chapter: alternative-media activists (PBS, public access, public radio, etc.), radical media activists (Paper Tiger TV, Promethius community radio, independent radio broadcasters, etc.), culture jammers (groups that turn pop culture on its head; Dangermouse, Negativland, GirlTalk, etc.), and hacktivists (Richard Stallman, Linus Torvalds, the GNU Project, Free Software Foundation, etc.).

Burkhart also spends a good deal of time on DRM and the push for "Ubiquitous DRM." Burkhart's main point in regards to DRM is that the fan (maybe "user" is a better term in this case) "increasingly give[s] up a wide variety of individual rights to acquire access to music" and that "they are required to become enmeshed in legalistic systems simply in order to enjoy music." With the proliferation of EULAs in software/subscriptions from Apple, Spotify, Rhapsody, etc., this is increasingly visible to even the most casual listener/user. Contrasting today's music marketplace (or "Celestial Jukebox") with the marketplace of only 20 years ago, the difference is staggering. There is an increasing rarity of purchasing a physical copy of an album, no strings attached. Instead, Burkhart suggests that we may be approaching the reign of "Ubiquitous DRM," where every piece of intellectual property in circulation is "protected" by DRM and P2P sites, ADCs, DACs, and file-sharing sites cease to exist.

1) Will the time come where cyberliberties activists overpower the pre-existing system of copyright law/DRM and the business of the music industry will return to how it functioned in the pre-digital age?
2) Would you say that DRM acts more as a means of protecting the artist's creativity or as a means of generating income?

In his chapter, Katz deals with aspects of digital sampling. Beginning with a brief overview of the process, Katz then jumps into case studies of Paul Lansky's Notjustmoreidlechatter, Fatboy Slim's Praise You, and Public Enemy's Fight the Power. All three of these tracks are prime examples of derivative works with drastically different meanings/contexts than the original works. Katz likely chose these examples as they are effective in his discussion of ideas vs. expressions. This discussion naturally lends itself to the question, "when does the idea cease to exist?" In all of these tracks, the fundamental idea of the original work is changed (if not through digital manipulation, through context manipulation) and the only remaining identifier is the expression (Camille Yarbrough's voice singing Take Yo' Praise without any attached meaning).

While Notjustmoreidlechatter is an excellent example of this, the piece that I immediately thought of was Steve Reich's Come Out. There is only one iteration of the sentence containing "come out" before Reich begins phasing different cells of the sentence. Even when the listener hears the entire sentence ("I had to let some of the blood come out to show them…"), it is not entirely in context. Therefore, through both sonic and context manipulation, Reich removes the idea from the sentence and leaves only the expression.

1) At what point is a sample no longer indicative of the original idea; does that make sampling okay?
2) Should sampling be looked at in the same light as covering (express written permission from the artist is not required)?

McLeod's article is more personal than those of Katz and Burkhart. Central points of his essay include Danger Mouse's Grey Album and the odd nature of copyright law. McLeod also includes narrative from his personal experience as a copyright activist. McLeod uses the Grey Album as an example of a modern work to which our "outdated" copyright system does not apply. Because the album likely generated sales for the Beatles and Jay-Z, McLeod claims that Danger Mouse's sampling did not cause anyone any harm. In McLeod's opinion, copyright law should be structured following the example of patent law. I am inclined to agree with him on this point, as both systems were originally created as a means of allowing creators of new material to maintain a temporary monopoly over their creations as a means of financial security while their next creations were being finalized. Indeed, the music community should function in this way. Original ideas should be allowed to come to their financial fruition, but, once that time has passed, they should be given back to the rest of the community so that forward progress can be made.

1) Should copyright law be changed so that works are protected for shorter periods of time?
2) Would such a system allow for greater creativity in the music industry (would pop songs continue to be made from cookie-cutter templates)?

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