Inquiries into the early years of SJI

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

copyright vs public domain and the web


I love bumping into sites like this. How can we share our love of music when reproducing it - perhaps by posting our own rendition of, say, a Beatles song - can leave us open to legal challenges and/or performance charges? Lucas Gonze is obviously a man very familiar with the Internet, and too familiar with the problems inherent in "this era of copyright extremism" which, he goes on to explain in a podcast on the Digital Media Insider site (also available, btw, at iTunes), "is just going to wipe out a lot of those inputs. I don't think that people are going to play Beatles songs. I think the Beatles are going to disappear from memory - because they're going to be locked away. You really can't get to the stuff. And instead the music that was available for free use, that was under a Creative Commons license, that was very clearly in the public domain, or that was made before the recording era, I think that's what people will be using. They will be doing the five trillionth cover of 'Home On The Range' instead of a much better song, like 'She Came In Through The Bathroom Window,' because that's what's in the culture, and passing back and forth references to the same material but used in different ways. That's what you're doing when you're making cultural artifacts. I think people will look back at these lost items and say, 'These were such great songs! What happened to them?'"

Soup Greens is devoted to music that is clearly in the public domain. But it goes deeper than that, directly addressing the issue of how music copyright affects us in everyday life. While looking at his site, make sure to visit the menu item "Just my music" - here's Lucas and his guitars, doing some fine renditions of songs that are firmly ensconsced in the public domain.