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Bound by Law? is a brilliant comic book written by two Duke Law professors about copyright and the decline of the public domain as it relates to documentary filmmaking. It's a pretty quick read, and I'd recommend it.

The Wired News interview with the authors is also interesting. Despite their strong criticism of recent abuses of copyright, they see themselves as trying to preserve the institution. "We actually view ourselves as copyright defenders, showing how copyright is supposed to work. We're saying this imbalance could cause us to lose the next generation of artists, if they think of copyright as worthless." If you make artists believe copyright is an impenetrable minefield, rather than an asset, you either inhibit their creativity or drive them underground and limit their potential cultural contributions by making them inaccessible.

Speaking of illegal underground art, Favela on Blast is one of the most brilliant albums I've heard lately, and I've been listening to it over and over. It's a half hour of baile funk tracks from Rio. I'd never heard of baile funk, but to quote the producer of this mix: "punk rock + new wave samples + little kids screaming + miami bass + outsider music industry = most exciting thing going on right now." Some of the samples go beyond what even I'd consider fair use, but who the fuck cares. Anyway, they can't exactly put it in wide commercial distribution without getting their asses sued off, so they gave permission to put the MP3 online. To quote Negativland, Copyright Infringement Is Your Best Entertainment Value.

I'd also recommend Piracy Funds Terrorism, also freely available online, though I don't think it's quite as brilliant. It's basically the predecessor to M.I.A.'s Arular album, released while they were in the early stages of the two-year wait to clear all the samples, even after stripping most of them out. M.I.A. sounds exactly like what you'd expect a female Tamil refugee living in London rapping over beats from a Miami producer to sound like - if you had any idea what to expect from such a combo, which I certainly didn't before hearing it. But I like it.

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alanj

February 2013

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