Jon Ippolito on Sun, 14 Apr 2002 00:28:01 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-bold] why art should be free 3/3: notes

Why Art Should Be Free [part 3 of 3]


1 To be sure, headlines like "Tangible Dollars for an Intangible Creation" <> are not always the fault of the individual journalist, but may reflect the priorities of the periodical that prints them.

2 By comparison, Berkman affiliate Glenn Otis Brown sees constitutional impediments to legislating a blanket "copyduty"--Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig's term for guaranteed access to copyrighted material.

3 At the 100th American Assembly on "Art, Technology, and Intellectual Property," Tim Quirk of recounted how his record label blatantly reneged on their contract's guarantee for a second CD and music video for his band. The record industry lawyers he spoke to all told him he *might* recoup a few thousand dollars if he was willing to spend three years fighting the case.

4 I've also had a dealer who visited my studio communicate my unrealized ideas to his own artists so they could execute them. Like most artists, I had no realistic legal resource; the gallerist's defense was "I guess these ideas are just in the air." So much for copyright's supposed protection of the struggling artist.

5 Some critics argue that the art world may only assimilate Internet art that can exist in standalone versions or be shared by a "gated community." But why not ask the art world--which is simply a big network itself--to reinvent itself so as to accommodate the networked aspects of Internet art? Suppose galleries and museums told sculptors not to give them works that couldn't fit in their painting racks; what's the point of collecting sculptures if all of them are flat?

6 According to Jupiter Media Metrix  analyst David Card <,1272,51146,FF.html>. Artist John Simon has developed a brisk market in very low-cost, personalized software sold online; his model, however, isn't scalable enough to sustain an entire artistic community. <>

7 Both quotes from A Visual Artist's Guide to Estate Planning, published by The Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation and The Judith  Rothschild  Foundation <>.

8 An exception is Conceptual artist Lawrence Weiner's BROKEN OFF, a work consisting of the words of the title printed on a wall (and hence easily duplicated). Weiner declared this work to be "Collection Public Freehold"--but like other works in the public domain, his declaration makes no guarantee that works based on it must also be public domain. Hence the advantage of copyleft over public domain. More recently, Michael Stutz <>has posted a "Design Science License" for linear video and sound files, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation <> has come up with an "open audio license" for music.

9 The GNU/Linux operating system, Apache Web server, and Perl programming language are three prominent examples of open-licensed software.

10 Depending upon the exact terms of the license, this last requirement can prohibit *anyone* from making a profit by selling something based on the product, or it can simply require that sellers of the product not attempt to prevent others from distributing it for free. Red Hat Linux is a prominent example of a commercial distributor of noncommercial software. More at

11 These include Glenn Otis Brown, Wendy Seltzer, and Molly Van Houweling, working under the guidance of Stanford professor Lawrence Lessig.

12 When I was looking up historical reviews of FLUXUS performances for the Guggenheim's Paik retrospective, many of the questions critics asked resonated with Internet art: Is it art? Is it good? But no journalist among the fifty-odd articles I read asked how these artists were going to make a living off their work.

13 To say art shouldn't be sold also doesn't imply it can't be collected, whether by private patrons or by public museums. According to the variable media paradigm I have proposed for collecting new media, an artwork's "heritage value" is the putative cost over time to re-create the work to keep it alive. More on variable media at

14 Sculptor David Smith was once rejected for a loan in his hometown of Paulding, Ohio. He went around the corner, bought a copy of Time magazine, showed it to the bank clerk, and was instantly approved. His face was on the cover.

15 If an artist open-licenses some works but sells others as property, then the extent to which she is eligible for social benefits could be pro-rated as to how she itemized her relative expenses for these projects.

16 As with artists, the extent of benefits would reflect the proportion of open activity within the organization.

17 The digital sanctuary I propose, of course, is not defined by spatial boundaries. In that sense, the digital sanctuary is akin to an endangered species list, since the animals it protects are defined by a predetermined criterion rather than a predefined location or species. In terms of the criterion for protection, however, the digital sanctuary is the opposite of an endangered list: it protects not that which is most rare, but that which is most accessible.

18 I'm using the word "streamable" in the generic sense of anything that can conveniently be rendered in TCP/IP and circulated online.

19 Of course, the half-life of exclusive online art has historically been short: cf. Vuk Cosic's Documenta Done or 0100101110101101.ORG's remake of

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