Intellectual Property Myths

Posted by Rhizome | Fri Jun 6th 1997 1 a.m.

Ian Cruikshank, in a post on intellectual property, wrote:

Intellectual property is a hot-button issue these days, and for good
reason. In the heat of debate, however, it can become easy for dogmatic
assertions to stamp out complex truths. In order to fairly consider
intellectual property, it is important that our discussions not be
clouded by misconceptions; for this reason, a number of false statements
about intellectual property are here listed and rebutted.

[...]

GH replied:

Ian Cruikshank's post really goes a long way to defining the parameters
of the Intellectual property debate. He's to be congratulated on his
clarity of presentation. I'd like to add to this wonderful statement a
different thread below.

[...]

Since I am an artist working in various media (most of it ephemeral) I
often butt up against a different slant to the issue of intellectual
property.

Art professionals are often confused by what I do. My work creates
cognitive shifts in the viewer/ accessors. It often completes itself in
situational meme-like transference. It has an effect in societal
resonance but often there is no stable repeatable product. I work with
mass media as both subject and object. I create culture-jamming works.
Sometimes in performance, sometimes with writing, sometimes by web
projects, sometimes on billboards.

My art as well as much of what is being done by others on and off line
does not fit comfortably into the mediological circulation of art
objects (intellectual property) in the art distribution system. Nor does
my work as well as those of others fit into the corporate entertainment
distribution complex. Yet it is still art.

Debating the issue of intellectual property does not address those of us
who have found a new path and method for creating and distributing art.
In the old system artists are producers of property which distributors
resell for profit. Control of property is the key issue. Anti-control
forces (you know China and so forth) are simply thieves who still
believe in the property structure. They deserve each other. It's a sham
battle. nothing changes but you are seduced by the spectacle.

My struggle as well as that of other artists working in these new
fragile domains is to survive, prosper and grow in spite of the sham
debates on intellectual property rights.

With the sheer volume of art, music, entertainment being produced world
wide, it should be apparent to anyone that no intellectual property is
really valuable. It's a falsely hyped up buyer's market trying to
artificially produce scarcity where none exists. In this climate artists
lose whatever dignity they might have garnered in the pursuit of
creative endeavors. The work has to be marketed correctly in order to
have any value whatsoever.

And what do we as individual artists do? Some try like the dicken's to
be included in the system so they can survive and prosper. Others try to
find the core of the creative spirit and work from the inside out. It's
a major mistake for artists to think about intellectual property.
Your Reply