Episode 3: Give and Take — Pirates, Profiteers, and Art in the Age of Appropriation

The figure of the Genius looms large in our contemporary thinking about art and creativity. Art is a gift given to the masses by those fortunate few who are capable of creating something from nothing, of inventing forms and sounds that the rest of us simply couldn’t imagine. Well, maybe that’s overstating it a bit. But whether or not we believe that great art and ideas emanate from so pure a source, there is certainly a tradition in the West which places the individual at the center of creative production.

In this episode of Off Topic, we explore the ways in which the idea of the singular Genius belies the importance of collaboration, emulation, and appropriation in the artistic process. In particular, we ask how piracy and the open-source, give-and-take culture of the internet is forcing creative producers of all kinds to rethink their relationship to the crowd. We speak with writers, internet activists, and artists, to see whether this change is helping or hurting the cause of Art in the 21st century, and to figure out what it means for people trying earn a living from their creative work.

Part One: Professor Stillman learns to share – Clay Haskell on how a photo he took took off with out him – Cory Doctorow on living with piracy and making money in spite of it.
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Part Two: Rarotonga, a little island where generosity begets art… and lots of it – Cory Doctorow on how the new becomes old, and the colonial roots of Western copyright law – Idris Goodwin on sampling in hip hop.
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Part Three: Marcus Boon in praise of copying – Cory Doctorow on the obsolescence of intellectual property – Idris Goodwin on adapting to the new economics of internet music.
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3 Responses to “Episode 3: Give and Take — Pirates, Profiteers, and Art in the Age of Appropriation”

  1. Clay Haskell
    March 31, 2013 at 1:15 am #

    I think you edited out my point. It is not that I am anti-sharing. I actually want people to see my image. Come see the image on my page. I am sharing my page with you. What I can not stand for is people using my image to make money on their page and not cutting me in on the deal. It is not just that they downloaded it. They turned around and used it for their own self-promotion. On their page. Until we find a way around that capitalism thing, I think we need to reform copyright.

  2. Matt Bates (@Jambeeno)
    March 31, 2013 at 10:43 pm #

    I think we should reduce copyright's term from life + 70 years to the 14 years it originally lasted (or less). We needn't foster any more of the egocentric "mine mine mine" mentality that's made our copyright system so draconian and counterproductive. In the western legal and cultural tradition, assuaging loss aversion has taken great precedence over ensuring a healthy public domain. The pendulum needs to swing very far in the other direction before it even approaches a reasonable equilibrium position! An apropos topic: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loss_aversion

  3. Michael DiFranco
    April 21, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

    I really pay attention to the many discussions and developments in this area of give and take. In fact, until your show, I thought I had already heard too much about it. Your beautifully produced and wide-ranging interviews as well as the your usual comfortable personal slant made it the best. The necessity and inevitability of a real balance between give and take is a common conclusion, but your presentation was clearer than anything else I have heard or seen. That hour was really well spent and it will be treasured by me as an important reference document. Is that legal? If not, I'll remember it well.

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