A Bill of Goods?
Marty is right about the need to organize and the inevitable problems that will arise as internal differences are encountered and engaged. And what organization can serve as the umbrella? Jean underlined the rather pitiful arts weigh-in on media consolidation, and was dead on in identifying the narrow "arts advocacy comfort zone" of the nonprofit community. Tim has a right to be depressed!
I've been bothered for years by the sight of some accomplished artist -- a songwriter, actor, etc. -- positioned as an advocate for some policy change that really only benefits IP-dependent corporations. The notion that artists and companies share the same values when it comes to the character of our arts system is a crock. Companies worry about the theft of assets; artists worry about obscurity. These two concerns overlap at times, but often they don't. What's the real benefit to an artist of copyright protection that reaches beyond three-quarters of a century? What's the real benefit to an artist if your publishing company or record company uses licensing fees to prevent your composition from being sampled. or prevents your film clip from being part of a documentary. We need to begin the organizational conversation Marty envisions by figuring out what an artist-oriented regime of laws and regulations would look like. The last thirty years have certainly provided us with more than we wanted to know about how culture works when the footprint of copyright is enlarged, when media is consolidated, and when the Internet gets chopped up into something that looks like old-time late-night TV. A more nuanced, public-purpose-oriented arts system is possible, but we need that Marty-style conversation to see where all the parties agree, where we can't come together, and how we might organize.
And I also think we need to engage the public at large. The "system" ultimately shapes the way America interacts with information, with cultural heritage, with political speech and personal creativity. Just as the environmental movement was ultimately about everybody, the character of our nation's expressive life is important to us all.
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