Recently I’ve started taking an unusually great interest in the subject of intellectual property, its ups, its downs, and its abuses (on both sides). And after listening to a couple talks by a man named Lawrence Lessig, I’ve finally started to decide on what my stance is.
People want to remix, repackage, and transform. It’s an outlet for their skills, a way to express themselves, and just something to do when they don’t feel like making more “serious” and “original” works. There’s something about it that feels more productive than simply mindlessly consuming things, and sometimes a combination brings out new nuances you never would have noticed in the original works if they hadn’t been combined. Some copyright holders might not like it, but it’s arguably a major part of our culture at this point, to the point that sometimes it just plain makes them look bad when they try to crush it. Some people are literally going and claiming they own the rights to public domain music and even BIRD SONG (not kidding!) just so they can use copyright to gain power over other people. Things are getting disgusting, and if we don’t do something about this, we might be in for a day when nobody makes any new works and we just pass around the same 125-year-old books and albums, or it’s at least a civil wrong for anybody who isn’t part of one of the three big companies that end up purchasing everybody’s rights to create a new work except maybe under extremely strict specifications put out by the big guys. A certain newspaper has actually already tried to restrict the use of the letter “T” (no, really, I’m not even joking).
So what can we do?
One option is to start over. If we can’t create a fan culture around works from “the big guys”, we need to make a new body of works surrounded by less nastiness, less absurdity, and fewer federal agents, a body which anyone can freely create new works from. That body already partially exists, but it’s still very small and fragmented compared to all the locked-up strictly commercial stuff out there. It needs some livening up.
And that is why I’m going to licence Stablehand under the
CC-BY-NC-SA . If you are an artist who enjoys synthesis, adaptation, and—dare I say it—freedom, I encourage you to use a CC licence as well.