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1. Napster Kayoed?

The US Appeals Court ruling [Wired] Feb. 12 against Napster turned out to be as ambiguous as the dispute itself has become. Yes, the file-trading service faces a shutdown [Salon] but it wasn't an immediately lethal sword to the gut.

Sure the recording industry seems to have proved its case that file-traders are breaking copyright laws. And musicians need to be paid for their work. But the recording companies have a difficult time [NYTimes] proving that they have been damaged out on the digital free range. Indeed, there is mounting evidence that digital music downloading may be in part responsible for a strong increase [The Age] in recording sales.

The recording industry itself has not exactly been on the cutting edge [ZDNet] of finding ways to sell music legally online. Currently it's much more difficult to download music legally - paying for it - than do it with any of the "illegal" services. And young people are now hooked on downloading, with one-in-three teens ages 12-17 [Washington Post] copying away. And who trusts the recording companies anyway? They were hit with a price-fixing suit [Variety] last year for colluding to keep CD prices high. In any case, it may be time to stop romanticizing [The Telegraph] the "revolution" represented by Napster - after all, it's about the content, right?

Complete Digital/Napster stories archive.

2. Giuliani VS Brooklyn, Pt II

The Brooklyn Museum couldn't buy publicity like this. New York mayor Rudy Giuliani knows how to give the Brooklyn Museum of Art a big attendance boost (and make an artist's career in the process).

By early accounts, [NYTimes] Renée Cox is an artist with "a minor reputation as an artist of expensive-looking, technically proficient photographs." But that didn't stop the art-loving mayor from considerably elevating her position in the artworld when he denounced Cox's photo [NYTimes] "Yo Mama's Last Supper," being shown as part of BMA's "Committed to the Image: Contemporary Black Photographers" show, for being "disgusting," "outrageous" and "anti-Catholic."

Guaranteeing that Cox will be in the news for weeks to come (and that crowds will be flocking to the BMA), he also promised to appoint a commission to set "decency standards" to ensure such work stays out of museums that receive public money. He's likely to be thwarted in that threat, just as he was last year [CBC] when he tried to withhold city funding to the BMA because he objected to it showing a Chris Ofili painting as part of the "Sensation" show [ArtsJournal].

Of course, the mayor hasn't yet seen the photo itself, but particularly after last year's "Sensation" storm, he had to know that his public condemnations would ignite another media flurry. And now the issue will play out with all the predictable players [NY Post] taking their predictable sides, including Cox, [Salon] who will make a career of portraying the aggrieved artist. Can you say Holly Hughes? Here we go again.

Complete Brooklyn/Giuliani "Sensation" story archive

3. The Art of Destruction

After you've done Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, how do you shock critics to action? How about the politics of destruction?

British critics are abuzz about Michael Landy's project to destroy everything he owns [The Guardian]. It's called "Break Down" and Landy is systematically feeding everything he owns into a crusher at the end of a long conveyor belt set up in an old department store. Some find it reminiscent of the "piles of spectacles and shoes in Nazi death camps, of Holocaust victims, stripped of their belongings and their humanity." [The Guardian]

Or is it "the death of British art"? [The Guardian] Still others see it [The Telegraph] as "quintessentially modern because it is so ruthlessly efficient, so mechanised."

It seems to be one of those artist acts that grabs the imagination because a viewer can put their own personal spin [Sunday Times] on what it means and apply it to their own experiences.





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