Re: Hmmmmm

Subject: Re: Hmmmmm
From: Dennis Bathory-Kitsz (
Date: Sat May 15 1999 - 10:10:37 EDT

At 07 38 05 15 1999 -0400, Kevin Austin wrote:
>The following may be of interest, particularly from the point of view of
>copyright violation.

Yes, indeed. Peter and I talked about the topic very briefly several months
ago when he was setting it up, but gave it no attention then.

The violation may seem obvious, but the question is very subtle. When a
recomposition is done in real time, essentially viewing an existing website
through a window of software manipulation, it appears that it's being
retransmitted and translated. Indeed, if the original plan was carried out
(to do this all in real time, rather than delayed, as it appears to be in
Peter's current version), how far is it from the computers which are
already responsible for carrying the digital information from the original
website itself? Headers get appended, packets are re-transmitted, errors
are corrected, sometimes (as with streaming technologies) distortions are
allowed to be introduced to keep the stream going.

Two years ago, ParaSite did almost this same thing in realtime as part of
an outdoor sculptural installation first shown in Rotterdam; ParaSite
crawled the Internet for sounds to use & modify & reconstruct along with
the live sounds in the outdoor inflatable (software and techniques devised
by Johan van Kreij and Richard Tolenaar). Things were lots less touchy then
(no hint of anything like the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act yet), but
ParaSite appears to be gone anyway. It's "violations" were never discovered.

The intellectual property pendulum has swung far in the direction of
categorizing the smallest sampled snippets as property, whether actual or
symbolic. And the pendulum's still moving that way, allowing patents for
long-public techniques and levying taxes on duplication media based on
assumptions of its use. Big companies simply sue & wear down owners of
domain names, private stores, etc., to acquire all versions of "their"
names. To me, it's an unhappy situation, especially since cameras and
microphones monitor what we say and do, and transmit and archive it without
our permission. Do we not own our voices and images, or must we leave that
ownership behind when we go out in public? Do we own sounds and images, or
leave that ownership behind when we put it on the web? The latter is
supposedly clear, but I suspect overall it's more a difference of muscle
than of intellect ... whether it's your local bank or the RIAA or a burger

To get back to Peter's work ... I think it will have to be a much
higher-profile site (or simply get noticed but an intellectual property
robber baron) before it triggers the intellectual property police, and
creates any sort of legal test of the compulsive "it's mine" reaction.


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