Sunday, April 10, 2005

Who owns culture?

who-owns-culture tweedy-grin

So who owns culture?

That was the topic for a panel discussion recently in New York City with intellectual property authority and Professor Larry Lessig and Wilco's Jeff Tweedy (link via Some Depression).

Law Professor Lessig interviewed Tweedy recently in Wired Magazine and quoted him on the raging copyright and file sharing battles as saying:

JEFF TWEEDY: "The audience is our collaborator. We should be encouraging their collaboration, not treating them like thieves."


The New York Times article "Exploring the Right to Share, Mix and Burn by DAVID CARR covered the discussion and leads with:
"The tickets for the event Thursday sold out in five minutes on the Internet, and on the evening itself the lines stretched down the block. The reverent young fans might as well have been holding cellphones aloft as totems of their fealty.

Then again, this was the New York Public Library, a place of very high ceilings and even higher cultural aspirations, so the rock concert vibe created some dissonance. Inside, things became clearer as two high priests of very different tribes came together to address the question of 'Who Owns Culture?' - a discussion of digital file-sharing sponsored by Wired magazine, part of a library series called 'Live From the NYPL.'"

In the Times article, Mr. Tweedy suggested that downloading was an act of rightful "civil disobedience."

The Lessig/Tweedy discussion is summarized on kottke.org:
"Legislating against things like remixing and sampling is racist.

The argument goes that genres that tend to rely heavily on sampling and remixing (like hip-hop and rap) tend to be practiced by minorities and that legislating against them is de facto racism. More generally, it's about the powerful (who, in the US, tend to be middle-aged white men) trying to keep their power by limiting the powerless (i.e., the poor and otherwise disenfranchised, who, in the US, tend to be minorities)."

On Wilco World, a stream of the panel discussion.

Got Tweedy? Here's an interview with Jeff on Tiny Mix Tapes.

Also, here's Wilco's cover of Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper".


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