Guest Blogger: "ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe"

Thomas Jefferson welcomes Guest Blogger Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was the third President of the United States (1801–1809), the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and one of the most influential Founding Fathers for his promotion of the ideals of republicanism in the United States.

It has been pretended by some, (and in England especially,) that inventors have a natural and exclusive right to their inventions, and not merely for their own lives, but inheritable to their heirs. But while it is a moot question whether the origin of any kind of property is derived from nature at all, it would be singular to admit a natural and even an hereditary right to inventors.

It is agreed by those who have seriously considered the subject, that no individual has, of natural right, a separate property in an acre of land, for instance. By an universal law, indeed, whatever, whether fixed or movable, belongs to all men equally and in common, is the property for the moment of him who occupies it, but when he relinquishes the occupation, the property goes with it. Stable ownership is the gift of social law, and is given late in the progress of society.

It would be curious then, if an idea, the fugitive fermentation of an individual brain, could, of natural right, be claimed in exclusive and stable property. If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it.

NYC Re/Mixed Media Festival 2010: Paying it forward

Re/Mixed NYC 2010

A new film festival is starting up in New York City, and it's friendly to Free Culture:

"The Re/Mixed Media Festival celebrates remix as a legitimate, responsible form of visual art by bringing together filmmakers, video remixers and mashup artists to display their works publicly. The festival will be held in Brooklyn, NY in May of 2010... We are currently soliciting films that utilize remix/mashup techniques, and that are under 10 minutes in length. Additionally, your film should comply with the following guidelines:

  1. Remix does not mean stealing someone else's work and claiming it as your own, but using it to create a work that is substantially different from the appropriated work, even if it depends heavily on it.
  2. The materials used in the remix should be either owned by the artist, granted permission from use from the creator, licensed under a creative commons license which allows such use, in the public domain, or fall within the parameters of the Fair Use doctrine of U.S. Copyright Law.
  3. Attribution for works used will be given where required.
  4. To be considered for the festival, submitted works must be freely redistributable, except as limited by source material restrictions.

(Emphasis added.)

It's very encouraging to see point 4! That's "freely" as in "freedom", if my brief conversation about it with with Tom Tenney, one of the organizers of the festival, is any guide. It's great that the festival is ensuring that the works they show be freely useable by others — remix artists, of all people, understand the importance of this. And as the Sita Distribution Project is showing, being pro-sharing can actually help the artists economically.

Sketching is copying; copying is stealing. Coming soon: no breathing.


This may be old news for art students, but for the rest of us it's still kind of amazing to see cultural institutions like museums buying into the "copying is stealing" myth by prohibiting sketching.

In some cases, the copying restrictions are imposed by a lender — it would be interesting to know how often the lender imposes restrictions on works that are not under copyright, or that would not otherwise be restricted.

Nina Paley collected some examples after the jump. Know any others?


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