January 19, 2009  ·  Lessig

From a correspondent:

My name is Marco Scialdone. I’m an italian lawyer involved in copyright issues.

… I think you’ll find interesting the following story. It shows how copyright law can struggle creativity and, above all, how copyright lawyers are unable to understand the potential and the beauty of this new culture enabled by the Net.

Recently, an article published on Artsblog has brought to my attention the Romaeuropa Web Factory Competition. The competition is about four different areas: video-art, electronic music, writing text, development of an advertising spot.

The regulation, at article 8, provides that: “It is not permitted by the participants, any activity of mashup, remix and any other kind of manipulation, in any case, the result of mashup works, remix and any other kind of manipulation cannot in any way participate in the competition.”

The clause above sounds absurd at least for two reasons.

The first, and most obvious, is because the forms of art that are mentioned, in particular video art and electronic music, use techniques such mashup, remix, manipulation and these techniques are, at the same time, their cultural and philosophical substratum and the raw material for their implementation.

The second, however, relates to a presumption of unlawfulness of those forms of art. The regulation does not seem to take into consideration that the video or the work may have been produced assembling or manipulating works whose licenses permit that type of activity and, therefore (i.e. Creative Commons Licences, or at least, many of them), make it perfectly legal (in terms of claims of the authors) the derivative works. Still, the regulation do not take into account that the activity of remix or mash-up could be based on material fallen into the public domain and therefore freely reusable to build on the past and create new forms of art.

For these reasons i decided to join some artists in writing a letter to the foundation asking a change in the regulation.

The object of the letter is “Freedom for Remix”. You can find it here (Italian).

My best regards,

Marco Scialdone

  • http://bertola.eu/ vb

    Unfortunately, this is just normal for Italy – a country where most people in charge of any kind of responsibility were born before or during World War II. Notwithstanding the efforts of many, Italy more and more keeps lagging behind in terms of digital culture and more generally of innovation and progress. Only through a radical rejuvenation of the Italian leadership – based on skills and merit, rather than on personal connections and kinships as it usually happens – there could be some hope for a better future; otherwise, Italy is destined to lose contact with the world and get back to poverty, racism, isolation and underdevelopment.

  • F2

    This is not surprising at all. Since the 80s, Italy has been folding on itself due to the fact that protecting acquired privilege, whether big (a company’s position) or small (a person’s employment), is the overwhelming concern of an economy with little credit and even less monetization.

    Italians love to blame their politicians, but it is the population at large who is to blame – Italian politicians are elected, and a number of different ones (a large number) have cone by in the last 25 years. This is a country where the average male lives with is parents until well into his thirties. Does it surprise you that innovation, creativity and economic progress happen in spite of society and the establishment, not because of it? I have lived there for 15 years, and I am not surprised one bit.

    Your title suggests a connection to the Italy of the renaissance. That Italy is gone. What exists now is a comfortably lazy place that was an economic power in the mid-80s, threatening the U.K.’s #5 position in the G5 (and effectively leading to the creation of the G7), and that has basically has largely stagnated ever since.

  • http://www.artisopensource.net/ xDxD.vs.xDxD

    I don’t think italians are to blame, or even that they just sit there and watch things happening.
    Things are just rough, and public policies, economic scenarios, work conditions just make things harder for ordinary citizens.

    but even things like this can be a trigger for something to happen.

    As it did, this time.

    The RomaEuropa WebFactory does not allow artists to remix?

    Well, we remixed their contest, producing an opportunity.

    more here:

    http://romaeuropa.org/index_en.html

    please participate, spread and share, if you can.

    prof. Lessig, thank you for talking about it. :)