Appropriation and Remix Culture in our Technological Times

In the article by Doctorow he attempts to show how complex our current copyright problems are. He talks about far wages for artist paid by government and how this would never work. With this I agree because as much as I would love to be guaranteed an income to many people would jump at this opportunity to quite their jobs and write music and paint.

He also talked about the “Berne Convention” and how the nations that used this where breaking their own laws by allowing blanketed licensing for music to radio stations, karaoke bars, and hairdressers. Then Doctorow went on to talk about the old trying to stifle the new from TV going after the cable companies, then the cable companies going after the VCR and how they always seem to use the defense of no one will buy what they can get for free.

Then he talked about the industries of fashion and architecture having very few copyright protections yet they still seem to be attracting new people into the fields. This to me means that a lack of copyright protection does not stop creative people for creating.

Doctorow suggest the possibility of charging an annual fee in exchange for unlimited downloads when purchasing a MP3 player and rationing out the money to the artists by how many songs of their were downloaded that year. Though I am glad to see that someone is trying to think of way to fix the problem I do not believe this is a viable solution. The reason that I don’t like this idea is because the money will go through the labels before getting to the artist and who to say that it will ever fairly reach the hands of the artists.

In conclusion I think Doctorow is trying to give possible solutions to an impossible problem. The biggest problem is that there are just no good answers. Yes artist should have the right to protect the art and have an incentive to continue creating new art but they shouldn’t have the right to get in the way of others that are attempting to do the same. This is the problem. Both sides are right and wrong.

It is just to complicated a problem to fix without starting over and rewrite the laws. But this leads to another set of problems. As long as we have a system that is set up where the ones with the money and power are the ones who get to right the laws, we the people will never get the true freedom of expression we deserve.


In this article, Cory Doctorow tries to highlight the functions of what would be successful copyright law, and he proffers some good points. I like that he takes the capitalist and consumerist market economies into consideration, and focus on that for a bit.

As much as artists would love the “government will pay you 40 grand a year” scenario, it will never happen, and so copyright must exist in order to fund creativity. He points out that money and art do not have a direct correlation, that it would be better to have revenue from copyright be shared among many artists, as opposed to just one, and that copyright doesn’t deliver a free marketplace where creators or investors set a price for creative works.

I don’t believe that is entirely true: art is in a market place, perhaps, not negotiated by price, but by success, which in turn, increases revenue as if it was negotiated by price. What I mean is that even if Rihanna and her record company doesn’t charge a vast amount of money for people to listen to her new hit-single, they propel it to the top of the charts, causing the amount of people that want to listen to her to increase, which enables her to go on world tours and “float to the top in a pure and free marketplace,” helping her collect her profits.

Furthermore, he says that “money talks, and bullshit walks,” which is a fairly good label to pin on record industry executives and their investors. His argument that creators and investors are notoriously resistant to new media is one that is preventive of cultural advancement Investors possibly apply, but only until they figure out a way to manipulate the new technology in order to make higher profits. There are examples of creators being resistant as well (Metallica vs Napster), however in my opinion, on the whole creators are not only open to new media, they are the ones that spur the new media.

Art, and specifically music, is a market that churns out billions a year, and I feel like even though it’s damning to think about it this way and it’s much nicer to say, oh, art is priceless and art is sacred, the reality of the situation is that the market for art, music, and film is enormous, and it should be considered as such in terms of what the “new copyright law” should look like.


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