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Roland Harwood

All sounds perfectly simple to me ;) the tools allow a more distributed network where the value is widely spread and widely distributed. I think well networked intermediaries/agregators are the new oil barons.

James Cherkoff

Thanks Roland, certainly Google's revenues makes the oil baron notion look about right... ;-)

The metaphor I keep coming back to on this is Folk Music. However, this is dangerous since I have moved from the south east to Cornwall and run the risk of being accused of having my brain addled by sea air and pasties.

If you look at an open mic session, the "audience" turns up and sometimes, somepeople join in. People start by foot tapping, after a few ales they might pick up the courage to play an instrument, sing along at a table or even grab the mic. The boundary between audience and artist is practically non-existent. They are also playing, improvising and "remixing" copyright free music. Most importantly, you don't have to do anything, just by being there you feel as if you are participating.

I'm not suggesting that we all start a Credence Clearwater Revival revival or rush to iTunes to buy some Nick Drake, it is the culture "people's music". Internet participation and the movement from audience to user is creating a new "folk" or "people's" culture. I realise this is a very unfashionable and middle aged metaphor and I don't even like folk music that much, but having been to watch friends and then been dragged in, it is a very strong metaphor. Certainly it is better than the usual hip-hop/dance music metaphor where whilst it is open, there is still a strong focus on copyright and lets be honest, only a tiny minority get involved in the actual music.

"Wer's mi Scrumpy & gimmi a banjo"

James Cherkoff

Thanks anon, I think that's a very good metaphor. 'For the people by the people' is exactly what peer-to-peer technology is allowing. The world is congregating around a billion passions - be they football, cars, horses or scrumpy! It may all sound a bit hippy-dippy - but it's just what people do! ;-)

Brad Bell

"certainly it is better than the usual hip-hop/dance music metaphor where whilst it is open, there is still a strong focus on copyright"

Sorry -- I have to take issue with the characterization of hip hop. In the context of the discussion, hip hop *was* the new 'folk' or 'peoples culture.' The "strong focus on copyright" came from the lawyers of giant music corporations that effectively killed hip hop with copyright. (You bastards!)

The attitude amongst hip hop artists was similar to folk musicians or jazz musicians reworking traditional standards. Hip hop also had a kind of DIY Web 2.0 cut-and-paste conversational aesthetic. Some tracks have so many quotes and musical and cultural references they'd make Denis Miller's head explode -- and more samples than any accountant could imaginably bill for. Public Enemy was using *hundreds* of samples per track. That's not abnormal or difficult. And *that* was the problem. This is why since the early 90s we have heard pseudo-hip hop where the music is simply 2 bars of a pop song from 10 years ago, looped. It's just rap over pop. Real hip hop died in a lawsuit.

For more, read this excellent interview with Chuck D and Hank Shocklee about "How Copyright Law [DESTROYED] Hip Hop."

Record company lawyers killed hip hop with a copyright law that suits their traditional business model; copyright law also suits their image of a passive audience of consumers. But it is a branch of law governing limited term monopolies which is incompatible with appropriative, sharing, conversational, digital user culture: sampling, cut-and-paste, personal computers, digital reproduction, conversational media, folk, punk, hip hop, the former audience... and so on.

But that's our new emerging culture. Corporations can't just sue it out of existence.

Don't worry, there's a new solution for users -- Team ACTA: World Police! (You bastards!)


Hey Brad, James tipped me off that you were "taking offence at my description of hip-hop".

"You will become ever hearing but never understanding: you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people's heart has become calloused" ISAIAH (6:9:10) & a mantra of the 'Stop R&B killing hip-hop movement'.

I will avoid the temptation to now write lots of Westwood Stylee whiteboy street slang, and just say that agree with you entirely. Hip-hop and dance culture could be so much more than it has so far become. But if, as you say, it is the giant music corporations who have done this, let hope that their increasing superfluity will allow free culture to reign.

I actually agree with people's rights to maintain copyright if they want (the GPL maintains 'copyright'), but I hope that music culture shifts to reflect what a tragic thing this to do and that copyleft eventually wins out.

Thanks for the alternet link - really interesting interview.

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