Re: Hmmmmm

Subject: Re: Hmmmmm
From: Steven Naylor (
Date: Tue May 25 1999 - 23:46:55 EDT

Chris Rolfe wrote:


>My foremost objection to treating intellectual property as property, per
>se, is that it is a tortured and innapropriate concept. Music is not dirt.
>Ideas are not fruit trees (or picked apples, a la John Locke's mixed-labour
>argument). Music is an exchange, inherently worthless in isolation.

My thoughts on this may be comparatively poorly informed, but I do not
really see much practical difference here. Music may be 'worthless in
isolation', but so for that matter is physical property. The value in the
intellectual or physical 'object' seems to be in its use (in the very
broadest sense, including aesthetic appreciation).

The analogy certainly falls down in many places (e.g., what if property
rights belonged automatically to the 'creator' like copyright.........),
but a common thread is that the entity with the most invested in the
process (land owner, artistic creator - at least initially) has some
control over and benefit from the use of the 'property'.

And yes, I agree copyright is a tortured concept, and in its present form
(at least in Canada) fails to deal adequately with many important issues
(particularly 'fair use'). I am also in full agreement with Chris's
comments on how its application has often become downright absurd and

But, speaking as someone who earns a substantial portion of his
insubstantial income from 'licensing' copyrights in my own work (e.g.
theatre and film scores), I know that the concept of copyright also
provides for some measure of fair protection/reward for creators when their
work is 'commercially' exploited. (And certainly someone's tolerance for
the chaos otherwise generated by copyright law may be inversely
proportional to how much one benefits from the positive side of

An serious related problem for music creators (in Canada anyway) is that
the performing rights tariffs for 'non-commercial' or concert music are
woefully inadequate and in fact constantly under seige in one way or
another - even from within the performing rights societies. But that's a
subject for another list, I think........

>As far as copyright encouraging diversity, that seems utterly wrong.
>Diversity thrives with free use.

This might have been true 50-60 years ago, when the world enjoyed relative
acoustic isolation, but I tend to believe (perhaps cynically) that when a
great number of the artists in the world have virtually instant access to
the same musics/sound art, plus in many cases the same tools, there will
inevitably be a tendency to homogenization.

Copyright protection (apart from its value to creators) is by no means a
panacea, and certainly doesn't guarantee the production of _good_ original
art, but it does provide at least an additional, albeit often unwelcome,
incentive to dig a little deeper into the creativity mines (which may soon
be exhausted anyway.............)


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