Another Pecha Kucha talk I did (here’s the other one). Slides and text after the fold.
In my endless attempt to explain what’s wrong with Creative Commons’ “non-commercial” and “no derivatives” restrictions, I came across this 2005 article by Benjamin Mako Hill:
This has led to a proliferation of harmful and incompatible CC-NC and CC-ND licensed works, mistakenly labeled “Free.” Mako Hill points out that while Creative Commons pursued its goal of “Balance, compromise, and moderation,” it failed to define or defend any core freedoms. Indeed, there seems to be no concern about what the “Free” in Free Culture means. To most it means, “slightly less restrictive than modern copyright.” Even so, most CC licenses are more restrictive than pre-1970’s copyright (because modern copyright’s extended terms and more draconian punishments for infringements still apply).
That’s not so hard, is it?
Ironically I was arguing with Richard Stallman last month about the Free Software Foundation‘s use of -ND licenses on its cultural works. A film they sponsored, Patent Absurdity, has “no derivatives” restrictions even though it could be greatly improved by editing, and clips could be highly beneficial in other works. Freedom #4 FAIL. Even the FSF fails to apply the Four Freedoms to Culture!
Software IS Culture. Many in the Free Software Movement draw a false distinction between “utility” and “aesthetics,” claiming software is useful and culture is just pretty or entertaining. But you never know how a cultural work might prove useful to someone else down the line. If you treat it as non-useful, and restrict it to prevent other uses, then of course it won’t be useful – you’ve restricted its utility through an unFree license.
The Free Software community needs to learn that Software is Culture. The Free Culture community needs to learn that Free is Free.
FREE. CULTURE. It’s not so hard.
Addendum: I consider Richard Stallman a friend. I argue with him, without thinking less of him. I’m grateful he’s his stubborn self. I just happen to not agree with him about restrictive licenses on cultural works.
Nothing compares to a real cinema: a big dark room, quality projection, and your fellow human beings who briefly transform from strangers into a community as they experience art together.
I’ve updated the pedigree charts I posted a few days back.
Although I use an attribution copyleft license (CC-BY-SA), I recognize that expecting attribution for every re-use is a bit unrealistic. Sure, it’s reasonable for the first few generations: most people can name their mother and father, and many can name all 4 grandparents. But expecting them to name all 8 great-grandparents is a little much. Who knows the names of all 16 of their great-great-grandparents, or all 32 great-great-great-grandparents? And so on.
Likewise, I expect people to cite Sita as a source in the first few generations of remixes. I don’t think I need to legally coerce people to name me as the source author, any more than legal coercion is needed for most people to name their parents. Or grandparents; a remixed remix can still cite this source. But a remixed remix of a remixed remix? How much “Sita” is even left at that point?
Sure, I’d like to be credited in works containing 1/144th dilutions of Sita, but is that reasonable?
Here the analogy between memes and genes weakens, because memes don’t recombine sexually like genes do. Making Sita’s “memeology” match the biological pedigree chart was awkward; cultural works can have many more than two “parents” for every “child.” I had to omit many of Sita’s other “parents,” like 2-D animation (cut-out animation, Flash, computer science, Fleischer Bros., Eduard Muybridge, etc.), to make the charts match. With all those “parents” mixing willy-nilly into all those “children,” dilution of attribution could happen in even fewer generations.
Take this still from Sita Sings the Blues:
It’s a collage made up of more than 15 disparate elements. Just the pattern in the background is comprised of 3 different traditional textile print designs. The border with the little feet and om symbols is obviously made up of many other elements, combined long before it ever reached my eyes. The tree comes from a reproduction I scanned from a book (lost in the Great Bedbug Infestation of 2008, so I couldn’t find it even if I wanted to); it comes from a painting, which may have been almost identical to many other paintings of its time, depending on whether it was produced in a big workshop. Surely it borrowed techniques from earlier paintings, which were based on earlier paintings….And that’s not even addressing the bits that make up Valmiki and Sita in the foreground, which were taken from more sources than I can recall.
I did “paint” the peacock feather by my own hand, so that’s “original.” Except the idea comes from dozens of paintings of Valmiki transcribing the Ramayana, and calling a peacock feather “original” because it wasn’t collaged in from another image, is just stupid.
My point is, even though attribution is important, it has its limits, which hopefully you can see in the illustrations above.
OK, this isn’t exactly hate mail – in fact it’s kind of adorable in its sincere incoherence. (I still get entertaining hate mail from time to time, but don’t publish it because I know the writers just want attention. This, however, is so perfect I couldn’t resist.) Vijaybhan writes:
The writer has a point – I’m really not a good Indian girl.
Never before in my life have I been offered so many opportunities to travel. Flights paid for, hotels covered, welcomed as a special guest in fabulous locations all over the world. I am grateful, and honored.
Unfortunately, I can’t stand it and I need to stop.
It’s baffling. I’ve always wanted to travel like this. All my friends are jealous. My past self is jealous. What’s wrong with me?
My circadian clock, for one. It doesn’t re-set easily. Actually that’s not something wrong with it; it’s supposed to work that way. But it’s not compatible with modern international air travel.
Also: my immune system. I frequently get sick when I travel. Maybe it’s the proximity to all those new germs – airplanes are like flying petri dishes. Maybe it’s the stress: cramped seats, endless lines, a thousand humiliating little cuts going through airport security, ticketing, etc. It could just be that jetlag and its attendant sleep deprivation make me susceptible to more diseases.
I also get sick mentally. I bring along many tools and aids to preserve my mental health, but they only go so far in the face of constant stress. Sleep deprivation is unfortunately a trigger for depression, as is physical illness. For a few days these are manageable, but as time wears on, my mind weakens. Last year in Australia, I was unable to sleep one entire night, even with sleeping pills, and started hallucinating. The next day I spontaneously burst into tears a few times. It was interesting, certainly, but not fun. Simple things aid my recovery: my own bed, friends, familiar faces and places, and of course my loving and loyal cat. I have none of these when I travel.
I don’t really know why problems that are so big for me are mere inconveniences to others. Maybe it’s alcohol: I don’t drink. I notice most other travelers do, some a lot. Alcohol probably helps smooth over all these pains I suffer acutely. Unfortunately, I can’t stand the taste of alcohol, and I get no pleasure from the effects. Same with pot. Believe me, I’ve tried. If they worked for me, I would use them.
There are lots of other things most people find desirable that I don’t: bars, amplified music, crowded events, loud parties, eating standing up, cars, babies, television. In the past I’ve believed I should enjoy these things, I’ve tried to enjoy them, I’ve wondered why I don’t; but eventually I accept that I simply don’t derive pleasure from them, and focus on what I do enjoy.
There is an up side to some of this. Plane travel is truly terrible for the environment, so avoiding it has some larger benefit. Some people avoid plane travel even if they enjoy it, for altruistic/environmental reasons. I’m sad to disappoint those who would like me to visit, but on the other hand I may be reducing net harm by saying no.
Here, then, is a list of reasons NOT to travel I composed in Yerevan, Armenia, while my throat was bleeding with an infection I still haven’t recovered from 12 days later.
Nina’s Top Ten Reasons Not To Travel
1. Bad for the environment.
So there you have it. Will I still travel? Yes. Will I travel less often? I sure hope so. I have traveled quite a lot already, on every continent except South America, so I needn’t fear I’m missing out or living my life in isolation. And I live in New York! The whole World comes through here. Hello, World! Please let me sleep in my own bed.
And sick as a dog! A dog on antibiotics, who is extremely happy to be home after 3 mostly sick weeks away. Thoughts on travel and the near future coming soon.
This just in from Richard Siegmeister of WNET:
Sita is airing this Saturday at 11 on New York’s Channel 13!
And just like the last time Sita aired on WNET, I’m out of the country (by October 3 I’ll be in Armenia). Hopefully they’ll air it again later, so I can enjoy a screening party in New York. Meanwhile, please tell your New York friends.
At 8 or 8:30 pm! At a real cinema! I’ll post the cinema name and address as soon as the distributor sends it to me – soon – but if you’re in Paris tomorrow, please save the date and come by!
Merci a Christophe pour l’information!