Tonight I'm going to hear jenghizkhan performing live at The Psychasthenia Society, Galapagos Art Space, 70 North 6th Street Williamsburg, Brooklyn (between Wythe and Kent). I did an interview with him here, and am curious to hear the new music he's been writing. He goes on first at 10 pm. It's free.
Tomorrow night (Thursday, December 16, 6 pm) Cory Arcangel is speaking up at Columbia U in a series called "Open Source Culture: Intellectual Property, Technology, and the Arts." Previous speakers included Joy Garnett and Jon Ippolito. Cory is strongly advised to phone this lecture in from an undisclosed location.
Everything foul about the current copyright regime is summed up in Eric Fensler doing slam-bang satirical mashups of GI Joe PSAs and getting a letter from Hasbro's lawyers telling him to remove them from his website. Hmmm, just revisited my earlier post on "Making art in the age of abusive copyright enforcement" and find that only two options for artists are still viable. Here's what I recommended six months ago to avoid the lawyer letters:
1. Stay poor. The humorless twit who sued Jeff Koons over that "string of puppies" photo would never have done it if Koons hadn't been an "art star." Very few people sue to make a point (except RIAA); it's too expensive. [Whoops, post-Fensler this now seems excessively optimistic--strike this one.]
Infogrames who now owns the Atari IP went after Atariage recently and forced them to stop selling some hacked Atari 2600 cartridges and modern ports. Granted they were _selling_ them there, but they were made out of original Atari cartridges. In fact, my Combat Rock hack was usually made out of original Combat cartridges. Still haven't heard from anyone from The Clash estate though...
Can you talk about option #4 a little bit more? Why is it dumb and who is Jed Perl?
Paul, the problem with all this is, all the shysters have to do is make a "colorable claim" that you're infringing to saddle you with a suit that takes money to dismiss. You might ultimately win on a convoluted set of facts but who wants to spend his or her life sitting in depositions and writing checks to lawyers? My guess is if Infogames bought all the Atari copyrights and trademarks those would apply to old cartridges or any other vehicle by which the code was disseminated. You might be able to prove they'd let their copyrights lapse or that Infogames' rights didn't apply retroactively, but it would cost money.
yup, exactly. bottom line is they have a legal department and lots of time and we don't. So these companies can often shut down what they want whether they're right or not.
The problem with negotiating friendly-like is you bring yourself to their attention.
It's tricky when there's a branded product involved, because they can get you on trademark infringement, not just copyright--more specifically arguing a "dilution" or "disparagement" of the mark.
I suspect that's what's underlying the GI Joe thuggery. Dilution or disparagement is weaker than infringement, as in piracy, but all they have to do is get into court to tool you. Not that that's what you or Fensler or doing--the problem is no judge understands "art" or even "satire," they end up slotting everything into the legal regime they know.
This is an off-the-top-of-the-head assessment, not legal advice. I don't mean to scare anyone. What I'm going to say in my eventual post in response to j is, you have to fly under the radar, the problem is the bastards keep changing the radar.
Eventually the execs wise up, as they are wising up with mp3 blogs, but only after they've messed with people. And they still want to dictate terms to you.