[An excerpt from Sandro Satie's "Make Your Own Music and other Essays - 20 Years
A NEW DAWN
In the music industry, the consequences of plagiarism are clear: using someone
else's songs or loops without attribution is grounds for lawsuits, seizures, or
criminalization. For the young sophisticated, however, breaking the rules seems
to be an irresistible challenge. And so the game goes: sonic experimenters
continually look for (and find) ways to cheat, and corporate watchdogs remain on
the alert for purloined samples, riffs, and even entire compositions.
In an early phase of post-industrial society, plagiarized work used to be
generated through home-taping recycling efforts, borrowed from local
environment, or simply copied from records, tapes or CDs — all effective
efforts, but readily detectable by music experts, detectives and listeners. But
the World Wide Web and other electronic resources have changed the game and left
music experts scrambling to keep abreast of plagiarists' new methods.
The dissolution of ancient ideas goes hand in hand with the dissolution of
ancient conditions of existence.
[Abusing Electronic Media]
Before the world was linked by the Internet, hard-to-detect plagiarism required
ingenuity and skill. But today, with the click of a mouse, even technologically
inept experimenters have access to vast sound resources in cyberspace without
having to play a single note out of an instrument.
A few words typed into a Web search engine can lead an experimenter to
thousands, sometimes millions, of relevant sound files, making it easy to "cut
and paste" a few loops from here and a few more from there until the
experimenter has an entire CD-length collection. Or an experimenter can find an
archive of open-source music and copy entire tracks, turn them into new songs,
and then offer them up as anticopyright works without having to edit anything
but a title. Recycling efforts and ghost musicians have gone global, facing the
New Plagiarism Reality.
The World Wide Web provides plagiarists with a rich library of material from
which to gather sounds, and the easiness that prompts some experimenters to
action can also prompt them to do a great job with their plagiarism.
Here are just two simple hints:
-Context Change. Try to camouflage sounds by changing the context of the
original track. The elements may remain identifiable, or they may be transformed
to varying degrees as they are incorporated into a new creation, where there may
be many other fragments all in a new context, forming a new "whole".
-False References. Citing nonexistent bands, artists or journal articles, or
refering to sources unrelated to the subject matter is a very effective
[Why cheating still matters]
Often lost in the discussion of plagiarism is the basic interest of the
experimenters who cheat music industry.
They do legitimate research and compose their own music. They work harder (and
learn more) than ordinary musicians, yet their fame may suffer when their works
are judged and criminalized as supposedly "stolen" material. The previously
interesting idea that someone's music might freely include some appropriated
music of another has now been made into a criminal activity. This example is
typical of how copyright laws now actually serve to inhibit or prevent the
creative process, itself, from proceeding in certain interesting ways, both
traditional and new.
As Duchamp pointed out many decades ago, the act of selection can be a form of
inspiration as original and significant as any other. Experimenters have a right
to reclaim fairness and respect in the music industry. They have a right to
reclaim the money, too. Necessity might be the mother of invention, but there's
no point in going hungry when you could be funding meals in expensive
restaurants through acts of cultural theft.
Plagiarism is alive and well, and we can be certain of one thing: it has proved
effective in the past, and it will be again.
More and more experimenters are reinventing the whole world culture on an
entirely new basis, with the help of powerful softwares and killer apps. They
are just organising a detonation whose free explosion will escape them and every
other control forever.
Future looks so bright we have to wear shades.
---- courtesy of fSW Computer Plundertainment Inc. "Bringin' reality back to you!"
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