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last modified August 17, 2012 by strypey

By Danyl Strype

Where once Anarchy Online was my column in Thrall zine, these days it's multimedia on-line role playing game(MMORPG). Where once there was only the Real and the MP3, now there are the BBC-supported Dirac and Fluedo-sponsored Ogg Theora and Real - the spyware embarrassment themselves - are underwriting the Helix open source community".

What does all this mean for artists? The digital world has changed the rules of reproduction - at least for works of creativity. Stealing is wrong because it deprives someone of their goods. To copy is not to steal unless one accepts the right of creators of art or software (or more commonly businesses) to make a profit from creating scarcity - by denying the right to copy.

Whereas the RIAA use the DMCA to enforce their DRM, Creative Commons takes the approach of handing rights management directly to the artist, allowing them to clearly label their work with terms of use. In practice, recognition of copyright license is a goodwill contract between artists collectively and the public. In theory if a license is fair and clear, it is more likely to be respected.

Where Napster has bowed to corporate pressure and now selling the musical equivalent of Coke-only vending machines to US Colleges, projects like the Internet Archive Audio project assume musicians see value in someone else paying for digital promotional versions of their songs to be available free online.

The recent court case in the US of lesser-known artists having to sue RIAA-member labels to get their royalty money shows up the lie that the Gang of Five corporate labels are attacking 'piracy' to defend artist's livelihoods. Am I stealing the RIAA's property by quoting their name without quotes or by linking to their website as part of the meaning of my article?

Originally published in Boheme Magazine (August, 2004)

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