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-= A Latent Einstein Outreach Ministry by Phineas Narco of the Church of the Subgenius =-



 

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The story behind this letter is that it was part of a letter-writing campaign by the members of the Snuggles Mailing List defending the band Negativland after they could not get their latest cd pressed due to a Pink Floyd sample contianed therein. At that time, the cd's were rejected by the pressing plant due to the RIAA's policy of suing cd pressing plants if they were found to print (at all) copyrighted material owned by the RIAA. The policy made no provision for Fair Use. After the letter-writing campaign they made a provision for it.

The story behind this letter is that it was part of a letter-writing campaign by the members of the Snuggles Mailing List defending the band Negativland after they could not get their latest cd pressed due to a Pink Floyd sample contianed therein.

At that time, the cd's were rejected by the pressing plant due to the RIAA's policy of suing cd pressing plants if they were found to print (at all) copyrighted material owned by the RIAA. The policy made no provision for Fair Use.

Near the end of the letter writing campaign to then-CEO of the RIAA, Hilary Rosen, as well as various employees at the RIAA, and two days after the following letter was sent, the RIAA added a provision in its cd pressing plant guidelines saying that Fair Use samples might be in the cd's to be pressed.

Samples of Phineas reading this letter was used in a collage piece about copyright law done by The Button.

 

Good Hello,

I am writing because I am concerned about your current policy concerning the copyrighted materials under your purview and their fair use by artists interested in creating works of media collage. In particular, I am disturbed by your recent targeting of cd pressing plants to prevent ANY use of said materials.

I understand that you are part of the music industry. I imagine that you did not get there by accident. It is a career you chose. And since that is the case I would think that at some real level you love music and are proud to be a part of it, and that certainly on some very real level you understand art and the creative spirit.

I understand also that you are also in a business and that a business has certain realities that need to be dealt with for that business to survive. But isn't it a basic reality that a business has to cultivate creativity in order to thrive?

Let's try to look at the situation creatively:

Say an artist such as myself wants to make a piece about, for example, the psychedelic scene of the 60's. Say in this piece I wanted to use material from songs by The Doors, a group that is very strongly identified and associated, culturally, with that scene. And say that the material from The Doors was ONE of MANY elements in that piece. And say further that the material by The Doors was manipulated to have an altogether different effect and context than it originally had. And say then that the end product was really nothing like a Doors album at all, but something really quite different.

I ask you to ask yourself this question:

Is the creation and sale of such a piece going to negatively impact the sales of Doors albums? Think about this for just a moment. Is the sale of such a piece going to negatively impact the sales of ANY albums? Or is it just possible that such a piece could, in its own way, raise an interest in such material? Could the existence of such an altogether different piece of art actually be good for your business as well as for art?

I think you can recognize that it's just good business to demonstrate a certain reasonable amount of generosity. Every successful business recognizes the value of GIVING a certain amount of things away for free (whether it is a coupon or free samples of a product, complimentary services, or a prize) in order to generate interest and commerce in that business. But your current policy toward copyright offers NO such generosity, NO concessions, and NO recognition of this basic business principle at all. You are saying that no copies of ANYTHING you own can ever be made, EVER, under ANY circumstances. Is this reasonable? Is this good for art? Is this good for business? For your business? Please recognize that the samples a listener hears from one of our pieces today could come from the records they buy from you tomorrow.

Perhaps we can at least agree that it's in no one's artistic or business interests to get involved in long, costly legal battles over things that basically hurt no one. Perhaps in doing so we can make a distinction between what is hurtful and what isn't. I understand that you are very genuinely and legitimately concerned over the activity of bootlegging, and you have every right to be! Can't we at least talk and hammer out some kind of USEFUL distinction between the CREATIVE use of this material and outright BOOTLEGGING? NO ONE is advocating taking a Doors album and bootlegging it to be sold. But if that material is used in an artistic way, to demonstrate a point, to create an effect, or perhaps show people something they've never seen before, who does it hurt? And who does it hurt to NOT allow that kind of different art to be made?

I think that it hurts all of us.

Please consider that by allowing the creative tide to be raised, you elevate ALL the boats in the water. If 'different' or even radical art can't get off the ground, if mutations aren't legally allowed to exist, how can music evolve? The genre you are not allowing to fluorish today might be the next big thing tomorrow. With the restrictions in place now, we may never find out if it is or not.

I don't expect you to change your policy toward the use of copyrighted material overnight after reading this letter, but I ask you to at least consider some of the points I have raised in it. I am writing to you not in a spirit of proving who is right or wrong in this situation but in the spirit of reaching an understanding. I am hoping you can respond to this in the same spirit.

Can I ask a favor of you? In the spirit of giving I mentioned before, I would like to give YOU a gift. Would you be willing to listen to an example of this type of art? I would like to send you a tape to listen to. I think perhaps this is the best way you can determine if what we are doing is artistic expression or some kind of violation that must be stopped.

What do you say?


Thank you for your time and attention.

-=-Phineas Narco

 

For more information on this story go here.

 

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