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creative commons under collective fire

mr. john dvorak (of pc mag fame not of simplified keyboard fame--that was august) has written a pretty nasty article about creative commons which is like a volunteer-made extension of the copyright system.

it doesn't seem to do much that copyrights don't aside from making it almost instantly known whether the author allows people to use the covered material (and what they are allowed to use it for) without looking through pages of legalese. well, that, and provide something like eleven pre-made licenses which provide varying degrees of freedom for how the covered work may be used (without having to go to law school yourself).

oh, and did i mention that it also provides machine-readable tags which allow search engines and other software tools to classify the documents based on what license is used?

i guess i don't really know quite enough about the details to give a whole-hearted opinion one way or the other, but the article certainly sparked some interesting debates. these days, the consensus about dvorak will usually be that he's not much more than a bitter old man (commonly referred to on (/.) as 'troll'), but i digress.

like i said, i'm not one hundred percent sure whether this is the way to do it or not, but i _do_ recognize the need for a change in the way the system works. you can't sing the birthday song without violating copyright laws, these days.

and about a million authors all came out of the woodworks to express how horrible it is when people 'steal' their work, and blah-blah-whine-whine-blah...metallica..sob...whine-grumble-grumble-whine-sob. well, i'm an artist, too. i write (i didn't say how good...) so that makes _me_ an author. i'm a musician. i'm a photographer. and i'm flat broke!

sure, i'd love to make some money doing what i do, but just because i have to work a real job to pay the bills, doesn't mean i'm gonna stop being creative. and it doesn't mean i get to throw a fit if someone uses a sample of something i made.

that's another thing that seems to be overlooked in this whole copyright/fair use thing--almost no idea is original anymore. you can argue all you want (if you've got a good example that proves me wronge, let's hear it), but pretty much everything 'new' that comes out has at least one (and often dozens, if not hundreds) of precedents that it can be traced back to.

nobody can _BE_ original, anymore (in the copyright legal sense of the word), because pretty much everything's been done in one form or another. show me a creative work and i can find a precedent for it.

not everything, mind you. with a universe of infinite possibilities comes, well, infinite possibilities, but truly unprecedented _newness_, for lack of a better word, is very rare indeed.

the thing is, anyone's creative work (art, music, writing, inventions, whatever...) is influenced in some way or another by everything that they experienced previous to the creation of said creative work. period.

unless you were born and raised in a societal vacuum, you _HAVE BEEN_ influenced by the creativity of someone else, who was influenced by someone else, and on and on and on...

it's been this way for a lot longer than these debates have been going on, but now, thanks to a particular music scene, we've got a name for it--remix.

everything's a remix, now. and i love it.

you take a piece of this, and a sample of that, splice in undertones of a couple of these, with hints of those and voila--a new creation. in any medium, in any country, that's the basic way art (in all its forms) works. and, to be honest, that's pretty much how technology, law, and money work, too.

the creativity of a particular piece or artist cannot be measured by what went in, only by how creatively it was assembled.

please don't take this the wronge way, either. copyright laws were made to protect the interests and rights of the creative individual. and truly stealing something, claiming it as your own, and then making money or fame off it is exactly what copyright laws are s'posed to stop--but they're being used to sue people that don't necessarily deserve to be sued. they're not used to protect artists freedoms, now, they're used to _hinder_ those freedoms.

and what they protect (in a lot of these cases) are the interests of greedy corporations and individuals.

i think we need to step back and take a look at what our legal system has become. and i think we need to dig back into our roots to see the culture that's already there, and then maybe we'll have a more clear picture of where we came from, where this situation came from, and what we should do to make it better.

if you have any ideas, comments, suggestions--i'd love to hear about 'em. if you just want to tell me i'm a wanker, that's okay, too. and if you just wanna flame, troll or generally be mean, you can send those here.

and in the mean time, get out there and remix some culture. put your voice into the mix...


0wn yourself

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