Thursday, November 18, 2004:


Double Dee and Steinski -- Lesson 1: The Payoff Mix
Double Dee and Steinski -- Lesson 2: The James Brown Mix
Double Dee and Steinski -- Lesson 3: History of Hip Hop Mix
So I promised not to talk about politics any more, then there's this bill in front of Congress that would remove "fair use" provisions from copyright law, prohibit skipping commercials on DVDs, and allow the DOJ to file civil suits against copyright infringers.

Wow. Apparently the U.S. is in better shape than I thought, and there haven't been any murders, rapes, muggings, or robberies in the last few years, and no terrorist plots either. And so copyright infringement is the biggest thing left to investigate and prosecute on a limited budget. Makes perfect sense.

Uh huh. What makes more sense is that art is not a loaf of bread.

And that three-note decision--honestly, now. Can you imagine if they had a three-word rule in text? That typing "across the field" would get you sued by Faulkner's estate? That "Because I could" would get you sued by Dickinson's? Who owns "and in the"? What about chord progressions? I wanted to use D-G-A in a song....

Anyway, if this bill passes, that will be the case: no "fair use"; you'd better clear every honking thing you can think of. Call your senator and give your opinion about it--for one thing, it will make scholarly writing a great deal more difficult, which is not exactly in the interests of "the progress of the arts and sciences." (But, for that matter, neither is current copyright law. I really do not see how protecting Faulkner's copyrights for his estate's benefit helps Faulkner write any more fiction. But maybe those ouija boards work better than I've heard.)

The world is a very strange place. Anyone remember when Dan Quayle took on Murphy Brown, and Brown kicked his ass? That's what happens when you're in a society with media at every turn: TVs in the Taco Bell, in the airport, in your bank, music piped in to every grocery store you go to--the media saturates your every waking moment, and, naturally, becomes as much a subject for art as "love" or "murder" or "a journey." Why are you supposed to listen constantly and not speak unless you can afford it? When did commerce trump free speech? That assigns the First Amendment to the wealthy and "the right to remain silent" to everyone else. (And what about those cases where a copyright holder does not allow derivative works at all, ever? What the hell is that? Why are you going to release something into the public and not expect the public to comment on it?)

Here's the illegal art I mentioned last post. Seminal bit of hip hop here, fascinating work, very fun, very influential, and very unauthorized. If you haven't heard it before, give it a shot; it's a real treat.

And now I really am done talking politics. If only because I'm nearly done with these posts--a few weeks left, maybe.

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