The intellectual property equation

Through our discussion of remix and mashup culture in relation to the role of the author, I’ve come to some important points of consideration. Authorship, although clearly defined by Foucault, has a tendency to shift, based on the medium of production, and the subculture within it. Intellectual theft cannot be understood through a sweeping definition; it is ephemeral. Each subculture of production has different expectations of authorship and creative property which makes the overall discussion difficult, if not impossible. As Whelan and Freund point out, a main error that occurs in the authorship debate is creating this binary between good and bad, right and wrong. This type of argument ultimately leads us into different corners of a room, in our attempts to find the door.

As Lethem’s reading unfolds, different groups see plagiarism in various ways. He explains that both blues and jazz have been founded upon the recreation of musical cords and sounds. He looks to artists and the role of community inspiration. Here he situates a realm of intellectual production that is focused more so the creation, and less on the creator. Of course authorship is attributed, but originality is not the dictator of success. In terms of Blues and Jazz music “original” means a diffusion of the music communities, as their classification is born from their distinctive sound. images (1).jpeg

As Ornette Coleman quote implies, originality is subjective. Lethem’s perspective also puts an important emphasis on the role of economics within intellectual property. The most common disputes are in the public eye between large corporations, or famous groups and individuals. In order to better understand the overall argument the role of money needs to be considered. Creative commons and produser groups do not have to consider (as often) the role that money plays within intellectual claims.

My aim here of course is not to dive into my own rantings regarding copyright and intellectual disputes, but to instead suggest that the concept of intellectual property is better understood as an equation, that is constantly coming up with new outcomes based on the factors at play. The medium, the genre, the financial gain, the role of fame should all factor into the way in which intellectual property should be approached. It is unreasonable and impractical to compare situates as no two are alike, and many are completely different.


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