Sunday, September 19, 2010

if i'm not X to everyone, they will stop liking me

Cross-posting this from my Comm. Design class wiki because it fits the scope of this blog nicely, and because I have enough to do without writing two separate posts on the subject.

Jim Astrachan's lecture on copyright, though information-dense and not nearly as cursory as he implied it would be, was fascinating stuff. I realize how much that statement makes me sound like an apple-polisher, but it's true - I learned a lot from him and appreciated his candor and attention to detail. Copyright is a divisive issue thanks to how quickly people can access (and steal) information with the Internet, and it's usually reported in very square, monolithic terms, often from the point of view of miserly entities like the RIAA and Disney and their Congressional supporters. Astrachan's lecture was more specific and, obviously, geared towards what we as creators could do with our work.

His digression about working as a freelancer was also quite welcome. I've been freelancing since I graduated college 4 years ago (and it turns out Jim wrote a column back in the 80s for one of my steadiest contracts, Adweek), but I'm still in the larval stage when it comes to finding work and building a name/reputation/career, so his comprehensive approach to contracts and what separates a freelancer from an employee, and what rights each party has, was really helpful to me. I feel better prepared to keep from getting screwed down the road - sadly, freelancing means you spend as much time harassing people about money as you do actually working.

Finally, it's good to know that Creative Commons licensing is recognized under copyright law. I use CC a lot for my creative work because I like advancing the notion of making art for everyone, but I did occasionally wonder if I had any legal recourse against people who abused the terms of my license. I do, as it turns out, which makes me a very happy man. Jim is a little too mercenary to use CC (his words, not mine), but I admire their aims. Plus, I'm still young - there's plenty of time for me to age into rapaciousness and demand that copyright protection on all my work be extended into perpetuity throughout the Universe.

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