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Copyright's Stigma of Ideological Theft · Sunday May 18, 2008 by Crosbie Fitch

Lucas Gonze insightfully observes a strange absence from many musicians’ websites in his recent post musician blogs are mules.

“None of them link to other musician blogs.”

It’s one of those “Oh my god, you’re right!” revelations, such as one might get after someone says “None of the women at this party are wearing any makeup” and you realise that you must have unconsciously recognised it, but it’s only when it’s pointed out that the shock hits you as you realise how odd and spooky it is.

I suspect that a lot of the non-linking behaviour on musicians’ websites comes from the subtle cultural indoctrination we’ve been living with for a few centuries now (since the advent of copyright) that a musician who is influenced by others is a lesser musician (by exposing themselves to considerable risk of being less original).

Copyright effectively says that the only works worthy of the public’s attention and so deserving of their reward are works that are wholly original – any derivative work is a trespass upon the work of the ‘original’ creator and warrants their consent or veto, and first claim to any reward.

A musician who links to another is thus admitting exposure to that other musician (unless perhaps in a wholly different genre that they doubt they’d ever wish to explore in the future).

Perhaps when copyright is abolished, and its spurious stigma of ideological theft dissipates, all musicians can come out of their closets and embrace each other and their works as naturally inspirational or influential to a greater or lesser extent.

It’s the same with authors today who fear to reveal what books they’ve read or may have used as references, for fear of accusations of copyright infringement (or even actual litigation) – far better to pretend to be unread with any apparent similarity able to be dismissed as purely coincidental (even if one is then unable to give due credit to one’s influences).



 

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