Boom. Beck did it.
Did what? The best thing that happened to the music industry since the invention of Internet. By publishing his next album only on music sheets, Beck is giving the industry majors the blow Web 2.0 had to give them one day. Anyone can preorder the album sheets and start working on their own interpretation of the artist’s compositions as from today (months before the release – of shows only). Although the idea of using and selling music sheets as the main materialization of a musical composition has been used for a long time, it gains a different meaning in our interconnected era.
The democratization of media tools (cameras, microphones, recording softwares, etc.) combined with the social potentialities of the Web 2.0, transform Beck’s idea into something revolutionary: using the social networks to enhance the everlasting desire of humans to reinterpret their own way a piece of art and make sense with it. Instead of considering the reuse/reinterpretation of his art as piracy, Beck invites his fans and any musicians to do it. The act of using his art IS part of his creative process. To hear Beck, go see his concert. In the meantime, enjoy the global online and archived concert made by his fans.
I agree with Jonathan Lethem when he says that after an idea has been expressed in an art piece, the reaction of the public cannot be controlled. Most of the time, the rights owners who want – and can – track down copyrights pirates are companies or rich people.
Paradoxically, I also agree with Susan Meiselas when she explains she would like her work to be clearly identified when used as a creative source by someone else. She comes from the documentary perspective and wants to make sure the social context in which she produced the image is understood. She did not want money. She wanted respect for a human struggle.
This means, the way we interpret the concepts of piracy and rights is complex because “copyright is an ongoing social negotiation, tenuously forged, endlessly revised, and imperfect in its every incarnation“. As long as there will be a legal framework shaping the way acts of creation and reinterpretation will exists, there will be conflits. (For an overview of those particular to our era, I recommend this great film by Brett Gaylor: RIP! A Remix Manifesto. Free to watch online, of course.).
For a long time, the industry has been considering the laws as the Truth. When confronted to the law, any act that does not fit into the framework is considered as piracy. But in the era of interconnection and self media, it is now time to assume that the act IS the the framework. That every tool, invention, gear, art, reinterpretation is in fact a response to made within a context, a response to a possibiity. In our case, acts by humans having acces to infinite content from a free worldwide database that runs 24/7.
Reinterpretations, resuses are gesture made by humans in response to the shape of their environment. Controlling those creative acts by imposing Dos and Dont’s does not make sense. Take the laws out of the equation and let people behave. Their Will to exist and express themselves leads to new forms of communication and storytelling (and fun), all of them originally unoriginal. It is on those that we have to shape the industry, not the other way round. (Although everyone unconsciously obeying the copyright framework every time they retweet and share via someone on social platforms which are still based on this concept. It is so important to make sure everyone knows we are intelligent enough to know where we can find the great ideas we do not have ourselves.)
In the meantime, if you happen to be here, and need help, call here.