[Whoops! Hiatus. Life in the way AGAIN. I’ll be finishing the WorldCon thing off… but other stuff will be interspersed.]

Very much the kind of panel one pays to see: smart people with very different views (and starting points) having informed, entertaining conversation.

Interesting tidbits:

  • Doctorow said Disney’s copyright in Steamboat Willie, and therefore Mickey Mouse (who is the reason copyright periods keep getting extended – basically whenever he looks like going public domain money swirls around and when it settles copyright lasts another 10-20 years), is apparently technically invalid because something was done incorrectly at the time! To make matters even more infuriating/interesting, the exact same loophole was exploited by Disney in order to rip off the estate of the guy who created Bambi – a typical example of large corporations using the law both ways.
  • Someone (can’t remember who, sorry) rebutted the standard-license-fee-no-permissions-required model of licensing (a la sheet music) by talking about how the greater ease of access meant that there was effectively little to no practical need to get licensing permission ahead of time, and people conflate something being accessible without a license and not needing to pay for one at all. But this was always the case – a trained muso would know how to transcribe a tune.
  • Doctorow discussed the resistance felt by some recording artists to the shift back to a more performance-based income stream in historical terms – as he has elsewhere – talking about how when recording first came in, musicians (who were live performers at the time) complained that they would be reduced to bureaucratic functionaries playing in a room somewhere. Now some artists are complaining that they are not spectacles and shouldn’t have to caper on demand for pay. There’s a meme hack here, however: Even in the studio, artists still have to perform to make their music, and so they simply sell “tickets” not to a live gig but to their next recording, or studio session, or whatever. I know that there’s a fundamental difference between playing a crowd and recording, but the basic economic fact is the same: you need a certain number of subscribers to make a performance worthwhile, whether it’s a couple of hours with bright lights or months in a room. It removes the speculative element of being able to make a recording and sell the finished work – which means the first works are free until you get enough supporters – but that’s almost always the case anyway.
  • French copyright law apparently gives artists perpetual, inalienable rights in a work – including some say over how it is displayed – apparently to the point that when a statue was removed from a foyer because the owners didn’t like it there, the artist sued them to make them put it back – and won! Interesting to me because the moral rights of the artist have always been the ones I’ve intuitively supported most – though never to that sort of mad extreme.
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