David Teh on 29 Jul 2000 02:19:27 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> from IP to anti-corporate protest

i couldn't agree more, phil.

it all stems from the bizarre inequities that arise from the corporation's
X-Men status at law.
so a company that owns the rights to something administers those without the
same 'feeling' or 'attachment' to the IP; which includes commercial licencing
or onselling when, as assets, they are no longer making an adequate 'return'. i
share this dystopic vision in which the producer's creation is cut free and
swallowed up by capital.

but while it's a failing of our legal structures (the Corporations Law) that
this system caters for the protection of the integrity of IP products so
poorly, is it not also a great failure on the part of those resisting this
inexorable march of capital to miss the point that corporations cannot be held
to the same standards as other legal persons? i find recent currents in liberal
activism, those that focus on corporations as the perpetrators of the world's
ills, more than a little wasteful.

[what about a company incorporated for the specific purpose of responsible IP
management. producers have equity and directive control over how individual IP
units get used, but the group creates a bulk economy for the day to day
management costs, marketing/promos etc.???]

a misunderstanding of the corporate veil has not only let our knowledge
property and artistic creations out of our grasp in officio-legal terms -  it
has also misled the forces of resistance into a critical dead-end. the laziest
choice for protest is the biggest target.  short of "the system" the biggest
target is the corporate infrastructure that determines the performance of
governance on every level in Western 'democracies'.  but the big target is not

go to their doorstep and scream 'Down with the evil BHP!' and BHP winces.  for
a day or so. probably doesn't affect their share price at all. other
corporations are rubbing their hands together so your democratic expression
ends up greasing the cogs of competition. go downtown and scream 'Down with
evil corporations!'
and nobody gives a shit.  nobody at all.  has it not been proven already that
anti-corporate activism achieves next to nothing unless it's company specific,
vindictive, and militant...?

i know i got a bit off the topic, but this has been bugging me for a while.
anyway, i must say i agree entirely that the 'progress' of the modern global
economic system ends when every sphere of human endeavour and all intangible,
abstract characteristics ("creative" or otherwise) are brought squarely into
the reign of capital. the third phase of capital's expansion is here, and we
have called it (tellingly) the World Wide Web.


Phil Graham wrote:

> 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.
> regards,
> Phil
> 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.
>  <...>
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