Jay Z and Me Got 99 Problems

Originally published at xaviarxerexes.com:

I ain’t a passed the bar
but I know a lil’ bit
enough to know
you ain’t illegally searchin my shit.

Actually I’m pretty sure I transcribed at least some of that wrong. I’ve been listening to the Grey Album (Black Album + White Album = Grey Album). It’s good. It’s also illegal under current copyright at applied to music sampling.

A lot of discussion concerning the Grey Album seems to be focused on preservation and expansion of fair use (including parody) to reuse snippets of existing art to create new art. The more I chew on this I realize that’s a red herring. The problem is and always has been the disappearance of the public domain. As technology for the creation, copying and distribution (and/or performance) of art has evolved in more effective ways, the term for the copyright holder has been extended in complete contradiction of everything Congress intended for in writing the copyright clause into the Constitution. As a creator’s ability to distribute widely increased over the years, Congress, if it had acted in the public interest of the nation (to increase the arts and sciences) instead of the special interests of the publishers (publisher defined broadly across art forms) would have steadily decreased the term of the copyright.

Why? Because fundamentally the easier it is to distribute art widely, the less time it takes to recover the “profit” necessary to motivate the creation of the art in the first place. It’s not taking longer to profit – it’s dramatically shorter. Current technology allows the creator to not only deliver to anyone and everyone right away, it is possible to tell anyone and everyone all about the new “thing” right away. You surely don’t need 100+ years. You probably don’t even need whatever terms were provided in the first federal copyright act. (I’ll have to look that up).

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