Free Artists + Fair Play = Fair Music
In the realm of intellectual property, what constitutes ‘fair’ is a legally contested notion, decided on a case-by-case basis. Increasingly, how institutions decide the definition, and how ‘those in the market… are trying to avoid any risk of copyright exposure’ (Lessig), is the ground for heated public debate, particularly amongst artists and their adherents. Given recent reforms and strictures, the time is certainly right for the launch of the Fair Music Initiative, which seeks a globally accepted standard for ‘fair music’. Announced to Cooperation Commons by Andreas Hirsch of Electrolyte, the initiative’s manifesto proclaims the following seven aims:
1. Unlimited freedom of musical expression.
2. Free access to musical expressions.
3. Justice of contract standards securing fair remuneration for the artists.
4. Adequate use of technology for a fair distribution of revenues instead of creating new monopolies.
5. Wide support for fairness and justice in the music business as key elements of cultural diversity.
6. Full recognition of the cultural character of musical products instead of limiting them to mere commercial artefacts.
7. A code of conduct for the music business, so that fairness and justice become the norm and not the exception.
Through the project, Fair Music will ensure that the artist receives their ‘fair share’ of every CD bought and every song downloaded, whilst maintaining complete artistic freedom of expression.
By aggregating recent discussions surrounding the effect of copyright laws on innovation and remuneration, the initiative is clearly seeking to light the path towards an emancipation of artistic practice. The maintenance of cultural diversity looms large on the agenda, the importance of which my colleague Andrew Garton often eloquently and passionately illustrates.
The site points to Good Copy, Bad Copy, a recent Danish documentary which I viewed via Second Life at the iSummit ’07, as well as Before the Music Dies, a title with fair warning to us all. Personally, I can’t envisage a world without (what my artistic friends term) ‘noise’ - beautiful, diverse, profound, and above all, fair to all concerned. Get involved and sign the petition and contribute your thoughts about a free culture future.