Bring the Digital Aesthetic into Meatspace and Deck The Walls with Imgur

You’re a good egg, Mackey Cobblepot. You have my endorsement.

Just because one wants something that is technically feasible does not automatically mean that one should be able to have it. We both know that, but I suspect I’m misreading your message. In any case, I do see where you’re coming from. Remember that AC/DC box set I went to so much trouble to get? Though it included a 12" single of the otherwise-unavailable-at-the-time “Cold Hearted Man,” it did not include a song entitled “Fling Thing,” which was the b-side to the fairly rare Australian-only “Jailbreak” single, which could not obtain by hook or by crook. So I eventually got “Fling Thing” on Napster (or Limewire, I forget which). I told myself at the time that there was no way I could hear the song otherwise, and there was no way to pay the band to obtain it. I got a few other unobtainable songs the same way. But y’know, it never did feel right, and so I came to the only conclusion I’m comfortable with: if it ain’t for sale or gift, I can’t have it. It’s what I would want as an artist. If someone stole and posted a song or movie I had made but not released (whether it was because it wasn’t finished, or I didn’t think it good enough to release, or I simply wasn’t ready), I wouldn’t want people to be able to obtain it. If I wanted to sell my music, I wouldn’t want people freely exchanging it. Since they’re gonna do that anyway, my hand is forced: if I want people to hear my music I have to put it out there and hope somebody bothers to pay for it. Some principled souls like you will pay, and also shoulder the burden for countless freeloading deadbeats who can’t be bothered.

Yeah, I know, but it’s really hard to think of them otherwise, even though just about everyone I know does this. Including me, a few years ago.

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What in the name of Emmett Kelly is up with the punk clown abuse this week? Just yesterday, while farting around on some unrelated website I happened to see a link for the new Offspring video, and since my band used to cover Offspring songs some twenty years ago, I gave it a click.

I thought there was a relevant question answered by John Darnielle of the band The Mountain Goats on his tumblr, I’m not sure this is the one I had in mind but this is what I found:

Now, AC/DC and everyone else might not all feel exactly the same way, but it’s interesting to consider this from the artist’s perspective. If they don’t put any effort into making it easy for you to find some rare Australia-only b-side… I’m willing to bet that they really don’t care if you get it through other means.

The evidence is clear that not all artists feel this way, but, I’ve seen similar remarks from other music artists that lead me to believe that many/most are happy that their “true fans” are able to obtain everything that they want to regardless of its availability, because they know that having happy fans is more important than having each one of those happy fans bending over backwards to find a copy of that rare Australia-only single (most likely would have to be bought second-hand anyway) that the band themselves doesn’t really care about enough to re-release anywhere else.

If you faithfully buy all their new stuff, if you go to their concerts when you can, if you buy their t-shirts… honestly there’s no reason not to go download that rare thing you could never easily or affordably put your hands on (though I’ll point out that sticking to your principles is certainly a valid reason).

Of course this is dangerously close to a common argument serial pirates make, which is “well I would have never spent money on it anyway, so there’s no harm” - I do think there’s something to that (especially in the case of rarities as explained above), but only within reason. And the problem is that once you get used to it, your threshold for when you would have spent money on something is raised.

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In the same way that you need to apply an extra layer of consideration to allowing someone to take a compromising photo of you (because digital everything) these days, we need to acknowledge as a society that the genie is well and truly out of the bottle.

To me, this means accepting and embracing the full suite of digital abilities as anyone’s right to exercise. I’d say this looks like a central government-run file-sharing infrastructure, with appropriate compensation for artists coming from consolidated revenue.

Fuck the gate-keeping dinosaurs.

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That’d be great, but I fear the aforementioned Boston-based dinosaur band had the right guess over such a program’s likelihood to come to pass:

It’s no less likely than hoping people will exercise restraint when holistically, they shouldn’t.

I say we share and share and share, until the dinosaurs are fossils. The writing’s on the wall.

That sums up the problem quite well for me. It’s the nearest thing I’d ever call a “slippery slope” when one begins to justify one’s less-than-legitimate artistic acquisitions. There are a great many circumstances under which people acquire copies of music and movies when the copyright holder receives no payment, as in the case of used CDs, DVDs, and tapes on the secondhand market. If I have no problem with that, why would I be bothered when somebody records something off the radio (which I used to do on occasion), or downloads from YouTube using RealPlayer (which I also have done)?

“Within reason” has to be my credo in the end.

There’s more than one reason I have a day job.

That remains to be judged, but I appreciate your vouch.

Tricky verbs we got. What does it mean to “have” or to “use” or to “copy” or to “steal?”

I’m going to dodge music for a bit. We’ve a good 15-20 year history of music disappearing into a digital thing, when for a while it had been a physical thing, an LP, a tape, a CD. Much better arguments have been made pro or con on that issue.

I’m talking about going the other way, taking something that only exists in bits, whether on your computer, or in your head, and using them for personal enjoyment.

When I take an image I can look at on the internet for free, print it using my own resources, and hang it on my walls, is that unethical? Who is getting harmed? Surely, the creator is not getting remunerated for the joy created by my fandom, but is that wrong?

Look what we do in bbs games. We righteously steal and trample upon every bit of pop culture artifacts that we can wedge in to make a joke. Copyrights, trademarks, and brand integrity be damned, on a global and search-indexed platform. Is that unethical? Should we be paying tribute to the films, toys, comics, novels, and sports beverages that we roast?

I see the latter as a form of storytelling, of fandom, and of flattery towards the original inspiration. I love creators, artists, and jokesters, they are the ones who create light in this world. As such, I also seek to remunerate or tip them when I can. But, just because I like their work, and want to see them paid so they can make more work, doesn’t mean that I will consent to always abide by their antiquated business models.

Art via fax machine has gone the way of the buggy-whip.

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If we asked Cory, he might say copyright is making unrealistic demands of reality. And when you do that, reality won’t likely oblige.

[quote=“doctorow, post:1, topic:41156”]
Your grandchildren will turn to you and say “Tell me again, Grandpa, about when it was hard to copy things in 2012, when you couldn’t get a drive the size of your fingernail that could hold every song ever recorded, every movie ever made, every word ever spoken, every picture ever taken, everything, and transfer it in such a short period of time you didn’t even notice it was doing it." [/quote]

See the shape of the future and roll with it. You can only hope to have even a chance at influencing it if you have an accurate enough model of reality in your head. Ubiquitous computing, high bandwidth everywhere, plus cheap and bottomless storage is an epic game-changer that’s only just begun to play out. Our system of ethics will inevitably evolve to adapt to all these new dynamics dominating our reality, sooner or later. Although I guess the longer we leave it, the more likely it’ll be a plaintive wish gazed out from behind bars, under a boot.

A devastated wasteland where only the most brutal can survive to cannibalize the festering corpse of post-petroleum humanity?

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