The Creative Cycle

The creativity and voice of generations to come was changed forever due to the digital millennium copyright act of 1998.  The scales were tipped in favor of the past controlling the future of ideas through questionable approaches of utilitarian ethics.  Unfortunately our society’s dominant ideology of capitalism forces us into the comprehension of everything in our lives through a sense of production and consumption, while regarding anything outside that process as irrelevant and of no value.  This type of philosophy is what has driven the control of creativity and ideas into the hands of the distribution companies as the primary benefactors, and left the interests of the creators behind.   Unlike the utilitarian approach that dominates the west, the European deontological approach justifies copyright as a necessary recognition of the author’s identity and personhood.  Therefore it identifies ownership as an extension of the individual or the creator of goods.  The public domain, which is one of the tools we use to build, remix and develop ideas is more restricted now that it has ever been.  Copyright had a set amount of time for ownership that met the demands of all concerned before becoming part of the public domain.  However since the boom of the Internet and pier-to-pier files sharing software, the giant motion picture industries panicked, specifically when they confronted the wildfire like spread of piracy.   Instead of introducing a technological solution to the ethical question of piracy, the production and distribution industries lobbied Washington and persuaded them to extend copyright ownership to 75 years plus lifetime of the author.  That amount of time skips an entire generation if not two who would have been familiar with these cultural artifacts.   The Disney corporation had one of the worst backlashes against piracy and went as far as threatening to sue children for downloading Disney songs, and daycare centers for displaying their cartoon characters in their classrooms and playgrounds.  Copyleft emerged as a result of all these hegemonic negotiations, which gives the power back to the creators to dictate how their creations are used and in what ways they are restricted.  This approach although not perfect includes the fans as co creators, forming a specific language of creative processes between producers, consumers and distributors where everyone is involved and has a voice.  It is important to remember that the distribution powers that exist today are hording intellectual property and ideas that were derived and remixed from past generations .  The copyrights they are entitled to do not surpass ours, and if balance is not restored between the past and the future the creative cycle will eventually come to a halt.

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3 thoughts on “The Creative Cycle

  1. I completely agree. What right do corporations have to restrict use of these ideas and creations when they neither created nor originated the product? Sure, it’s a new take on something already created, but it still borrows from past work. I understand that companies do deserve to reserve rights to their work, but when they start severely restricting the way consumers use their products, their rights should be questioned. When Disney tries to sue a daycare that merely paints Disney characters on the walls and is clearly not making any money from the display, copyright laws have obviously become too constrictive.
    I think when it comes to music, artists should have the final say in how their music is used once it has been distributed. If they want to allow other people to remix bits of their songs into something new, then record labels should not have the authority to sue these individuals just to line their pockets with even more money.
    You’re right when saying that the creative cycle will halt if we don’t find some sort of balance between past and present. Our current copyright laws are the equivalent of shackles placed around the feet of the progression of art. Something needs to change.

  2. While I personally agree with you in that copyright laws in the US are over restrictive, when it comes to music I am completely opposed to your opinion that control of creativity and ideas have been driven “into the hands of the distribution companies as the primary benefactors, and left the interests of the creators behind.” Because of the easy access to millions of potential fans, aspiring musicians are constantly popping up on top 40 lists, becoming overnight YouTube sensations, or simply being able to share their artwork without “selling out” to major distribution companies. A great example would be Drake, at one point he was able to achieve the #3 most downloaded on iTunes, and that was before he signed to any record label! Now many might think its unfair to cite his story, and say that it was a rare incident. The fact is, this is happening more and more. Music subscription websites such as Grooveshark and Rhapsody allow us to find obscure artists, providing us with direct access to independent artists. The line between mainstream and indie is ever blurring, and despite unrelenting pressure by major record labels to control the business, we are seeing more and more creativity being driven by non-label affiliated musicians. In regards to other forms of expression I cannot say the same thing.

  3. The issues of copyright have got to be one of the most irritating we have covered so far in this class. I find it outrageous that copyright has been allowed to get this out of control and illogical. Throughout the course of human history we have progressed culturally through the means of sampling previous works and improving on them. If you look at about any aspect of society whether it be artwork, movies, music, architecture, or literature all of these have progressed though history through the means of sampling from and improving upon previous works. Creating things from previous work and remixing it is simply how we as a society have progressed. I agree with your statements about hindering entire generations from progressing due to copyright laws. On the flip side I do understand the initial ideas behind copyright. I do agree people should have the right to profit off of their work, especially in a digital age where things can be ripped and reproduced with a few clicks of a mouse. However as you pointed out, the artists aren’t the ones receiving the earnings but it is of course the publishers they work for. Another thing I don’t understand about copyright is where in the world they came up with some of the pricing in order to obtain licenses. A song you may want to use in a project you are creating could cost you thousands of dollars in order to legally obtain. How does a song that is worth about a dollar suddenly cost thousands. How could a recording company lose thousands for a song put in a crappy home movie. Like the music of Girltalk, since he samples hundreds of songs in a single piece of music that could cost him hundreds of thousands. Which is ridiculous seeing as a 2 second snip it of a song takes away from that songs intellectual value.

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