Phil Graham on 28 Jul 2000 06:04:20 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> intellectual property, Hollywood style

Yeah ... the severity of that clause is fairly typical now. Contracts have 
been moving in this direction for a long while, really quickly for about 
the last 10 years. That sort of thing was not considered legally binding 
from about the 70s until the late 80s after many people who got suckered 
through the sixties with similar contracts sued successfully.

That's what annoys me about all this "free" shit. The fact is that 
distributors, producers, broadcasters, etc are now far more easily able to 
extort work from artists, far more cheaply than ever, and for *forever* - 
that's the ultimate in alienation: "the products of your imaginings are now 
mine forever, just sign here".

A far worse aspect is how it's done. A lot of work in music is done on 
speculation (at least in Australia, I understand that US industry is 
actually more insistent on this aspect, although it's hard to imagine how). 
That is, a producer (or whoever) will say: "I have this 
movie/documentary/advertisement, why don't you try your hand at scoring 
it". Ten years ago, there was a 50-50 chance at getting fees for such an 
exercise. The odds are much lower now.

By the time an artist or artists finishes a track, which, contrary to 
popular belief, takes a hell of a long time (roughly 5 days per 30 seconds 
for decent quality music), they are already heavily invested in many ways. 
Then comes the contract saying "no further claim until the end of time ... 
sign here". There's not much choice at that point.

I remain fairly unimpressed with all the whingeing by people about Napster 
being closed down, but perhaps the net does hold out some hope for artists 
(though I doubt that that will prove to be the case in the long run). The 
question should probably be, not whether intellectual property rights 
should exist or not, but who should be able to claim them. For me it comes 
back to the insane right at law that corporations have to be treated as 
persons, like you or I, whilst managing to evade any personal 
responsibility whatsoever. Whereas I might die and my copyright become 
public domain after 50 years or whatever it is now, corporations do not, it 
seems, die all that easily or quickly. It is all too clear that face no 
responsibility for past actions (cf IG Farben, Deutsche Bank, etc etc etc). 
But that's corporatism for you, I suppose. I will never forget the look on 
an EMI exec's face after he had just bought the rights to "happy birthday" 
from an old scottish lady.

There is not a single space - social, electronic, abstract, or geographical 
- that we have ever had which has not been enclosed and (eventually) filled 
with the organs of capital. I do not see the internet being any different 
in the long term.


At 05:43 PM 27/07/00 -0700, Lev Manovich wrote:
>Do you think that after the Net, memes, open source and other similar
>phenomenons/concepts/movements, the issues of copyright and intelectual
>property belong to the twentieth century?
>Not quite yet.
>The following comes from the contract recently offered to me by a Holywod
>Writer hereby agrees that the Works are considered a "work made for hire."
>As between Writer and Producer, the Works (including any ideas, written
>materials, and copyrights thereto) and all rights therein shall be the
>sole property of Producer, and Producer may publish, broadcast, exhibit,
>transmit, use and/or exploit the Works in whole or in part, in perpetuity,
>for any purpose, in any manner and through any media, whether now known or
>hereafter devised, throughout the world, in all languages, as Producer in
>its sole discretion shall determine.  Writer hereby acknowledges that none
>of the Works constitute a work of fine art, and hereby waives all moral
>rights, if any, associated with the Work.  Writer hereby irrevocably
>assigns and transfers to Producer all right, title and interest of every
>kind and character throughout the world and in perpetuity, in any and all
>languages, which Writer now has or may be deemed to have in the Works,
>including but not limited to any ideas, material, original works of
>authorship, and copyrights thereto, whether oral or in writing.  Writer
>hereby agrees to take, at all times hereafter, all action and sign and
>deliver all documents as Producer may reasonably request in order to vest
>or perfect in Producer all of such right, title and interest in the Works
>and to permit Producer to protect such intellectual property.  Writer
>hereby irrevocably designates and appoints Producer as Writer's agent and
>attorney-in-fact to take such action and sign such documents on behalf of
>Writer in order to vest and perfect such right, title and interest in the
>Works and to permit Producer to protect such intellectual property. The
>assignment in this Section 6 shall not apply to any invention or right
>which Writer is entitled to pursuant to the terms of California Labor Code
>Section 2870 or any successor provision."
>Dr. Lev Manovich
>Associate Professor
>phone: +1-858-822-1012  / fax: +1-858-534-7976
>University of California -- San Diego
>Visual Arts Department, 0084,
>9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0084, U.S.A.
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