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of false dilemma department

James Gannon, a Canadian intellectual property lawyer who works closely with the recording industry, recently posted a post on Facebook in which he attempts to separate the world into consumers who want freedom and creators who want control. The problem is that this is a totally false dichotomy. They are not two separate groups. Most people are both creators and consumers. The lines separating the two are also somewhat porous and meaningless. Yet by setting up this false “us versus them” dichotomy, Gannon can effectively dismiss those who are against things like DRM as simply not appreciating art and appeal to everyone’s innate desire to be creative. and artistic to make them feel like they are against DRM is somehow dirty. Let’s dig a little deeper:

People who oppose the protection of digital locks tend to view art and culture in the same light as mass-produced consumer goods.

Notice how Gannon groups together all the people who don’t like digital locks and tries to “classify” them. And he does it in a way that makes them look like Philistines. They despise art. It’s just a “mass-produced consumer good”. Except, of course, that’s not even close to the truth. Many of those who oppose laws giving overriding control to digital locks are content creators ourselves, who deeply appreciate creativity and the process of creating content. We just realize that digital locks often get in the way of this process. Gannon then goes on to repeat his first sentence over and over in different forms, all in an effort to suggest that people who don’t like digital locks don’t get art. They’re boring engineers who like (gasp!) to tinker with things.

Artists tend to disagree with this view. Most musicians think of their albums as more than a collection of grooves on a plastic disc. It’s art, and it’s an important part of our culture.

Ah, and here is the artist pure and beautiful, living on top of these little mundane concerns about technology and how things work.

The problem, of course, is that these two “groups” are works of fiction. The simple fact is that almost everyone today is both a creator and a consumer, often at the same time. In fact, almost everyone I know who seriously opposes DRM or mandates digital locks are well-established content creators. But, at the same time, they are also vast “consumers” of content. It’s because the best way to be a content creator is also to happily consume what others are doing – to experience this global culture and (perhaps sometimes) to draw inspiration, motivation and revelation. of these works. Pretending that these are two separate groups of people does a disservice to the real issues at play.

I can’t think of anyone I know who is against DRM and who views art as just a piece of plastic or “a toaster” as Gannon claims. Instead, I tend to see the opposite. I see people of all kinds taking inspiration from this creative work and wanting share this inspiration with others, and establish cultural links around these works. If people against DRM didn’t value the artwork itself, that wouldn’t be a problem, because they wouldn’t care so much.

The idea of ​​copyright grew out of this second line of thinking.

Well, no, actually it wasn’t. The idea of ​​copyright came from an attempt to give more power to intermediaries to limit certain forms of creativity. Gannon, it seems, is unfamiliar with copyright history. Of course, more modern copyright law was designed to “promote the progress” of society as a whole. It still has nothing to do with recognizing the beauty of art over plastic products and toasters. Copyright was never intended to be a one-sided tool for artists, but was designed to benefit society as a whole. In fact, the first copyright laws were intended to improve learning and educationand have often left out things as useless as pure works of art.

Honestly, people in this first group will probably never understand or support the notion of digital locks because they don’t see the point of copyright at all. For them, an artist asking them not to copy their CD is no different from Ford telling them not to put their car in reverse.

No. It’s not because we don’t see it any different than Ford trying to stop us from backtracking, but because we recognize how it limits art and creativity, limiting cultural relevance and the ability to be inspired and build. of this inspiration.

The idea of ​​restrictions, any restriction, on their use of something they have purchased is an unparalleled affront to their rights as consumers.

No, it is an unparalleled affront to the ability to create, build, share and live a culture we appreciate and love.

Digital locks were developed in response to this phenomenon. As more and more technologies were developed to allow people to copy works on a large scale, publishers big and small began to offer digital locks to protect their artists’ works and prevent unauthorized uses of their art.

Except, of course, that it ignores the truth. Digital locks have never worked and never will. They have done absolutely nothing to “protect the works of artists” or to prevent unauthorized uses of their works. This is because once the lock is picked – and she still is chosen – it was available to everyone. What are digital locks actually To do harm, it is the many legitimate users of this content who experience it and wish to do more with it, including building shared cultural experiences around it.

Remember, if there’s one thing they hate, it’s an artist trying to control how their art might be used.

Uh no. No one hates an artist for trying to control their work. They hate being unable to do something useful or valuable with a work of art, like creating their own work of art.

The laws you’ve heard of don’t actually relate directly to digital locks themselves. Rather, it is these other technologies, hacks and cracks, that the government bill seeks to ban. Just as copyright law makes it illegal to copy or modify a creative work, the bill would make it illegal to hack digital locks that an artist can use to protect those rights.

If it was really If so, the law would allow exemptions for cases of fair use/fair use or where circumvention occurs for a wholly non-infringing reason (such as archival, transformative uses, security purposes, etc.) .).

It all comes back to the view of art as a toaster: laws that prevent people from doing what they want with the creative works they have purchased are fundamentally wrong, bar none.

Well, yes, laws that prevent people from doing things like that are fundamentally wrong. But it’s not because of an “art-as-a-toaster” point of view. It’s the contrary. It’s because content creators know they’re both creators and consumers, and when any part of that overall process gets blocked, it kind of hurts creativity.

So what kind of consumers or creative works do you consider yourself to be? Should artists be able to retain some control over how their works are copied or altered, even after they are sold?

And this is the heart of the article. He sets up this myth of the “beautiful pure artist versus the philistine do-it-yourself consumer” so that people identify with art, because, really, who doesn’t love art? But, this point is why Gannon is so wrong. Presenting those who oppose digital locks as not appreciating art is backwards. If they didn’t appreciate and value art, that wouldn’t be a problem. They wouldn’t care, because they wouldn’t like him enough to care. They would do something else.

It’s a shame that the record industry and its lawyers want to turn this into an us versus them situation. It’s not. A lot of people want to create a situation where there’s more opportunity for everyone acting as both creators and consumers, to really allow creativity to flourish. But you don’t do it by blocking creativity and pretending that a lot of these creators don’t appreciate art.

Filed Under: consumers, copyright, creators, james gannon

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