Creative Commons; why copyleft is the only choice
NOTE: This article has been superseded by this one I wrote lately for the artworkshop|berlin blog. Feel free to read below but I may want to see the new one, just so that you don’t think I contradict myself.
Death to copyright
In younger and less enlightened times I used to put a © everywhere my photos were. The ASCII code 0169 is forever etched into my fingers. It was some kind of misguided paranoia thinking that if I don’t, someone will steal my work. Fact was and still is, that I as many others, know very little about the intricate details if international copyright law.
What also became obvious through the last years is that copyright as we know it, has become a tool for draconian laws and prosecution for a crime that is merely just that; intellectual.
The moral implications of our laws is another discussion, but fact remains that “modern” copyright law is nothing but modern and was originally intended for non-reproducible goods and purely commercial interests of the art and entertainment industry.
Plagiarism == re-invention?
Times have changed and people all over the world start realizing two things; that the forces for profit are far beyond consideration for even such untouchable concepts as human lives and the right to one, and that art is a perpetual metamorphosis rather than original creation as we define it.
The worn out statement that there is nothing new in art is holding remarkably true. There are fantastic pieces of work out there; artists that break boundaries and inspire people on a grand scale, but nothing is really new. As the music industry, without a hint of slightest irony shows; a song is song and the rinse-repeat formula has worked for a century now.
The line between “inspired by” and right out plagiarized (I refuse to use the word “stolen”) is rather non-existent and every other argument provided by the entertainment industry is more like trying to justify an outdated and rather totalitarian business model, than promoting real creativity.
Banksy can, why can’t you?
Since all art is a mix of inspiration by others and creative deconstruction of existing ideas; the genius is in the reinterpretation of the original source/s if inspiration. However egoistically we may grip onto our wishes for our work to be unique and sell all over the planet, it is in most cases unique and will not sell more or less, whatever the copyright status may be.
Banksy is a great example of an artist whose style and work has been copied and re-invented numerous times. Albeit that, he still remains famous and probably sells more than any other street artist on the planet. You will hardly find a copyright mark on one of his public works and it is surely not needed.
You have bills, they have the cash
Having said that, there is no reason why we should not promote the cause of individual artists and we all have bills to pay. Artists have to be able to make money, but artists must also be able to have the freedom of interpretation.
One thing is sure, that copyright trolls, the entertainment industry, unscrupulous action houses, the so called artist managers and so on, all add to the pains rather then the solutions, at the same time as they milk the artist’s name for pure profit, using copyright as an intellectual excuse for immoral, pure profit-driven behavior.
Long live copyleft!
This is where the Creative Commons license (CC) comes in. It is a way to both give the freedom to other fellow artists to use your work at levels you define, and at the same time to retain the right to make money on your art. It cuts out all the middle hands but by definition gives you the right to choose who makes profit from your work.
This is of course the reason why the art and entertainment industry refuses to take part, but that should not stop the rest of us being progressive. The more of us let go of the reactionary definitions of old-school copyright and switch to CC, the more we ourselves are in control!