Open Source and Intellectual Property Rights

Remix Culture and the Radical Imagining of Alternative Intellectual Property Policies by Martin Zeilinger/ Playing in Place Nowhere: creating an open source country by WRMC Collaborative/ My lawyer is an artist: free culture licenses as art manifesto by Aymeric Mansoux/ New Generations of Robin Hoods: Cultural and Technological Piracy by Ali Halit Diker
Saturday, 17 September, 2011 - 17:00 - 18:20
Chair Person: 
Mika Satomi
Martin Zeilinger
WRMC Collaborative
Aymeric Mansoux
Ali Halit Diker

Remix Culture and the Radical Imagining of Alternative Intellectual Property Policies

by Martin Zeilinger

This presentation addresses the cultural activism manifest in widespread free culture and open access movements, which engage reproductive practices and technologies in a radical response to cultural  policies that do not adequately acknowledge the enormous importance of sharing and reusing for creative processes. Tracing a shift away from negative opposition to such policies (which had had a tendency to feed the criminalizing rhetoric of dominant intellectual property discourse), my paper shows how contemporary remix and mash up cultures carve out para-legal spaces which challenge the relevance of property-based intellectual property policies by imagining alternatives that invoke concepts of the common and the collective, thereby pointing to a vacuum of functional and relevant cultural policy. Among the examples presented in my discussion will be the challenging of digital rights management technology by media art collectives and sampling musicians, and the critical appropriation of data-mining technologies by contemporary appropriation artists.

While digital technologies continue to make copying an inevitable component of virtually all of  our interactions with contemporary cultural content, creative expressions that incorporate processes of appropriation and copying continue to face sweeping vilification. At the same time, cultural theorists broadly acknowledge that all art forms that are based in reproductive media have contributed to the emergence of a resistant, critical cultural landscape which upholds open access and sharing as concepts that are universally embedded in humankind’s inherent drive to create and communicate. The different fields in which these values are manifest all explore a democratization of culture that benefits from the reproductive qualities of digital media. In this, insistence on the positive value of copying and sharing always resists the enclosure of creativity and productivity by intellectual property policies that are based on profit-driven models of private property. Yet, over the past few years this resistance has taken on a new quality. Initially, opposition tended to directly target property-based limits to creativity. My paper will trace a shift away from resistance that is based on the diametrical, often anarchical opposition of property-based models. I will discuss how instead, resistant cultural movements that insist on the merits  of sharing and copying are today framed in a positive rhetoric of civil liberties and constitutional as well as human rights.

As I will show, this approach makes possible a conceptualization of resistance to existing cultural policy that refuses to indirectly confirm the validity of profit-oriented intellectual property regimes (i.e., theft as a challenge to property), but that challenges this assumed validity through the invocation of basic  democratic values such as the freedom of expression, the freedom to receive and impart information and ideas, or the right to privacy, as outline, for example, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and various national constitutions. A range of examples from the world of contemporary art will show how this pushes existing national and transnational doctrines of fair use and fair dealing to their limits, by  urgently demonstrating the need for policies that honor the inherent value of sharing and collaboration, and by imagining (and performing) viable alternatives to traditional property models.

Playing in Place Nowhere: creating an open source country

by WRMC Collaborative

Traditional and new media technologies allow for a reframing of cultural constructs through play. Play and games provide insight and expose culture. Though the two are not necessarily synonymous, both play and games function in relation to an understood context and set of rules. In this paper we will investigate the concept of a digital country through an analysis of our current project, Lokönenie, as well as consider how artists and designers historically have enlisted strategies of play and games to engage in a critical examination of borders, mapping and technologies of representation.

Through practice-based research involving the combination of performance art and game design, we follow in the genealogy of DADA, Fluxus, Surrealists, and the Situationists. We create playful experiences that address the intersection of art, site and digital technologies through performative interventions and webspace. Our current project, Loköneine, questions the meaning of nationality, nationhood and identity. Lokönenie is a portable and conceptually open source country whose only fixed location is an IP address.The name means “place nowhere,” and highlights the transitory, dislocated nature of our country as well as our desire to promote a mobile, digital country that has no geographical, cultural or language barriers. The work is activated in the real world and lives in the digital where disparate locations can become connected in web space.

In addition to our own project, we will discuss the work of the Center for Land Use Interpretation, the Institute for Applied Autonomy, and Rafael Fajardo, as examples of artists and artist groups employing strategies of critical play and the revisioning of place.

Throughout this paper we will argue that performativity is essential to understanding and accessibility. As Allan Kaprow said, “As a four-letter word in a society given to games, play does what all dirty words do: it strips bare the myth of culture by its artists.”

My lawyer is an artist: free culture licenses as art manifesto

by Aymeric Mansoux

One of the main mechanisms behind free software relies on a set of rules that prevent improvements and changes to become inaccessible. Building up on these principles, artists and designers are now creating works as free software art, open source art or "art libre".These works are distributed using free culture licenses and offer the same freedom as free software in terms of appropriation, study and modification. In this presentation, I will show that due to the explicit rules provided by these licenses, what is often introduced as a new form of artistic freedom of production and distribution, is in fact a networked evolution of constrained art creation that finds its root in the works and experiments from artist collectives such as Fluxus, the Surrealists and OuLiPo; artists and designers exposing these mechanisms at the root of their creation are in fact turning legal documents into artists' manifestos.

New Generations of Robin Hoods: Cultural and Technological Piracy

by Ali Halit Diker

In my paper I intend to analyze piracy as a fight for cultural freedom. My goal is to place piracy in the center of a cultural and artistic production/reproduction. Especially the restrictions of copyright in the role of cultural production/reproduction will go parallel with my argument. So other alternative licensing methods like copyleft, creative commons etc. will take place. I plan to make connections with the moral and the story of Robin Hood with using case studies of social and artistic productions. These may include Michael Mandiberg’s, The Droplift Project, P2P file sharing, some of’s works, Wikipedia etc. The tools for production/reproduction and sharing has as much importnance as the cultural and artistic output so my paper will also look into these. Some of the questions that might raise about my argument will concern “is piracy really offensive to an artists work?”, “is copying and appropiation or digital reproduction reduces an artwork’s cultural value”,  “is cultural value equivalent to market value?”, “do agreements like ACTA and organizations like RIAA consider people’s pirvacy”...

I will try to conclude my paper with the discussion of: “if cultural value is a resource, is there any possible way to distribute this freely?” But thinking the concept as in “free speech”, not as in “free beer”.