Jeffrey Fisher on 25 Jul 2000 23:42:36 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> Terror in Tune Town

Eric Miller wrote:

> In the end, I don't think this argument can hold up.  I think it partially
> boils down to your statement about IP rights being a creation of the
> borgeoise...I just can't buy that.(bad pun intended)

interestingly, your ally in this debate mckenzie wark's historical argument
actually undermines your point, here.

> I don't buy any argument that legitimizes self-serving behavior
> by framing it as a class struggle issue.

well, first of all, class struggle is self-serving, not philanthropy or
altruism. just pointing out a category error.

> Taking content without paying for
> it certainly qualifies in my book.  Doesn't matter if you're a bona-fide
> blue-collar member of the proletariat complete with union card and
> oppressive bourgeoisie overlords...if you take what doesn't belong to you,
> you're stealing.

but this is the whole point. what belongs to you and why? if  intellectual
property is a natural right (a la mckenzie and his locke reference), why does
copyright ever end? why is there such a thing as public domain at all? is not
the limitation of copyright essentially theft, according to your understanding?
i'm serious.

> I'm sorry, but the bottom line is IF YOU DIDN'T PAY FOR IT, IT ISN'T YOURS.

hm. how much do i owe my parents for my life? or they their parents for theirs?
and so on . . . do i even own the life that i invest in my works of art? by what
right do i do so? is such a right naturally endowed by our creator? at what

i'm being sarcastic, but i recognize the conundrum here.

we want people to be able to make a living doing things like writing, or
composing, or performing, or painting, or whatever. but i think the reduction of
that problem to copyrights and intellectual property actually avoids the
fundamental issues: why do people need to create and/or experience philosophy,
art . . . culture . . .  in the first place?

the notion we have now of intellectual property i think conforms (like many
ideas we have) to a romantic notion of the individual whose solo sturm und drang
issues forth in deep thoughts or provocative tunes or whatever, rather than a
sense that we are engaged in anything fundamentally collaborative as a culture,
or as a species -- i.e., as a community. "you can use some of my ideas with your
ideas if you pay me to do so. you can experience my ideas if you pay me to do
so." because the only measure of value we seem to have any more is money.

which leads to a second problem, namely that we are supposed by this mechanism
(the market) to weed out the good from the bad -- people who do worthwhile work
will be able to make enough money (by way of their ip rights) to make a living
continuing to think deep thoughts or make groovy music. those who can't, won't.
it's a competitive marketplace, and if you ain't hip to the zeitgeist, your
IP(O) will be worthless. is this really what we want? i doubt it. but we've also
built a culture that tends to respect deep thinkers who make a living on their
deep thoughts, and musicians who make a living on their music, and so on,
because we presume that if they're not good enough at it to make a living at it,
they probably aren't worth me spending my 15-25 hard-earned bucks on.

i apologize for not having the answers (beyond revolution ;-), but it seems to
me that the debate over napster and IP has fallen apart into fairly hyperbolic
sets of positions.


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