WUNC highlights the creative importance of the Public Domain

WUNC is a fantastic resource for all manner of news and analysis, and I’m not just talking about the excellent NPR programming they carry.

The State of Things is one of North Carolina’s local treasures—valuable because it uncovers daily the local treasures of our state.  Professor Jamie Boyle is one of the great thinkers, writers, and speakers about the topic of copyright, culture, and the Public Domain.  Here’s the blurb for today’s show:

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My first five minutes with James Taylor

James Taylor -- Covers James Taylor has been a blessing to me since hearing his records in high school more than 20 years ago.  While I did also listen to music that was louder (Jimi Hendrix) or bigger (Led Zepplin) or more highly produced (The Beatles), his voice, his guitar playing, and the lyrics he sang combined to create  for me a touchstone of musical purity and beauty that actually sustained me through some deep and dark noreastern winters.  So James, if you are reading this, thank you!

This year James Taylor is promoting Covers, a new album of old music he didn’t write.  And as he explains in the liner notes of his CD, that’s nothing new.  And there’s yet more “everything old is new again” as he talks about his recording process…

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In Defense of Piracy (Larry Lessig)

Larry Lessig is always writing great blog postings, and I have him in my blogroll so that his ideas are easy to access.  However, I’m blogging his essay In Defense Of Piracy specifically because it was picked up by the Wall Street Journal, meaning that perhaps some of the people who should be reading his work might have seen it.  I think he’s spot-on.

And I think his essay exemplifies, in a more contemporaneous way, the ideas I put forward as part of my Ars Electronica paper.

Go read both!

Ars Electronica 2008: Music, Software, and Sustainable Culture

The following blog posting is an electronic version of the paper I presented at the Ars Electronica 2008 Symposium.  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!  You can also download the pdf file.

Music, Software, and Sustainable Culture

Michael Tiemann

“A Nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.”

—President Franklin D. Roosevelt
A letter sent to Governors on February 26, 1937

If we are to discuss the limits of intellectual property in the age of a new cultural economy (or vice-versa, the question of what new cultural economy can exist within the limits of modern-day intellectual property), we must first define the nature of these two subjects. Only then can we describe and then reason about their relationships and interactions with one another.

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Should the US write the laws controlling world culture?

“If Hollywood could order intellectual property laws for Christmas, what would they look like? This is pretty close.”

ACTA is short for Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement and, “that’s how David Fewer, staff counsel at the University of Ottawa’s Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC), summed it up,” said p2pnet.

In another article, “America isn’t becoming a police state,” we said. “It’s turning into a massive entertainment division run by a handful of corporate dinosaurs fronted by groups of corrupt executive politicians.”

Text of the full article.

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George Massenburg's latest: live studio performances

George Massenburg

George Massenburg is a legend in the recording industry.  His innovations include the introduction of the parametric equalizer in 1972, and his work on preamplifier design, dynamic range controllers, and other engineering equipment has also led the field for years.  His contributions to audio engineering go beyond mere tools: as recording engineer, mixing engineer, and as a producer, his name is on some of the most important records ever made.  And he has the Grammy Awards to prove it.

A new discussion thread on the gearslutz.com bulletin board tells us that George is continuing to work well outside the box, by capturing a live studio performance as a performance.  What’s most exciting to me is that it sounds very much like what I’ve been writing about co-production at The Miraverse

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The Police Give Back…Everything!

In Thursday’s USA Today’s Life section (August 6th, 2008), the article Police will bring on the night one last time caught my eye, and not just because I think that Sting’s Bring On The Night is one of the great live albums ever produced. Reporting revenues of $141M for the past year and a total of more than $346M worldwide is pretty eye-catching, too. But beyond the sheer economics of their tour, Stewart Copeland gives us a most astonishing insight. He said

We’re proud of this enormous monster we’ve created. But it owns us. The music doesn’t even belong to us anymore; it belongs to the people into whose lives it’s woven.


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Orpheus and Euridice comes to Chapel Hill

“Welcome to Chapel Hill,” I said to Ricky Ian Gordon after the 8pm performance of Orpheus and Euridice at UNC’s Memorial Hall, “the best town you’ll find this side of the Underworld”. And what a wonderful performance it was.

At noon I had never heard of either the work nor the composer, but thanks to WUNC, Frank Stashio, and the friday episode of The State of Things, my ingorance was incrementally diminished.

Ricky Ian Gordon is not only a modern composer (the New York Times reviews him as blending Gershwin and Berstein, but I heard lots of John McGlaughlin’s wholetone diminished scales) but a poet as well. In fact it was his reading of the libretto that convinced me I needed to buy tickets and see the show that evening.

Wow!  Bravo to the Long Leaf Opera company for their daring and compelling performance!!

I was also delighted to hear him talk on the radio about the power of mythology, particularly the power that comes from mythology being a shared cultural currency. Indeed, what power would music or opera hold if every story were forced to be something unfamiliar, rather than allowing it to be something both true and Archetypical?

So thank you Ricky, for your courage, tenderness, suffering, and most of all, your generosity in sharing your love and grief with us.  And thank you for venturing from your New York haunts to visit us down here in Chapel Hill.

For those of you who missed the show, at least listen to the WUNC interview–it, too, is great art.

Power, Passion, and Beauty

Last month I had the opportunity to read Power, Passion, and Beauty, the story of the Mahavishu Orchestra, published by AbstractLogix. As many of you can imagine, I’m a huge fan of John McLaughlin, and as a fan, the book did not disappoint. Meticulously researched the book’s organizing structure of a timeline lets history tell the story without the author getting in the way. And what a history it was…

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Magic Numbers

Kevin Kelley has got me thinking.  While he’s blogging away in California, I’m having the exact same thoughts and discussions with people here in North Carolina.  Wild!

Consider this article written in March: 1,000 True Fans.  It quantifies what life in the long tail is like if an artist has a number of  “true fans” who would basically buy anything at a given price level year-in and year-out.  And it concludes that with 1,000 true fans, art is sustainable at a very reasonable cost.

But then in April, he argues against himself in The Case Against 1,000 True Fans.   His argument is that while the math is valid, there simply are not any musicians who have 1,000 true fans (other than those who benefited from the legacy of the old-world music biz).  And he’s asked his (substantial) readership to either help him find three (3) such people, or concede his case to Jaron Lanier.

Do you know of any such people?  I’d love to meet them!