Here are slides for this week:
And Crash Course videos:
Here are slides for this week:
And Crash Course videos:
Here is Daa’ood’s post for next week’s class:
Cummings, Alex Sayf. Democracy of Sound: Music Piracy and the Remaking of American Copyright in the Twentieth Century. New York: Oxford Press, 2013.
The word piracy often conjures images of scraggly bearded men with tricorn hats who sailed the open waters of the Caribbean Sea looting and causing general mayhem wherever they sailed. Or in a more modern context the desperate actions of men from depressed third world nations that make menacing declarations about who posses the title of captain. While both of these generalizations are not necessarily wrong, the image that would be more fitting is actually that of your neighbor who works in the accounting department of a local firm or the barista from your favorite café that prepared your mocha latte. The ease of information exchange and the prevalence social media has created a society that values the art of sharing information and experiences. Bored at work with a catchy tune stuck in your head? Go to Youtube and play the song over and over to your heart’s content without paying a cent. Need something to inspire the students in your spin class? Go create a playlist of the Billboard 100 electronic/dance or hip-hop/ R&B. Your favorite band released an album but its getting negative reviews? Torrent it and decide for yourself and while you are at it send a copy to a friend, or four. It is easy to forget as consumers the musical experiences we share with friends and family is the hard work of one or several individuals who produce content for profit. While very few would argue against an artist ability to receive a profit from their work, the idea of commoditizing communal or intimate experiences blurs that argument. What should you do? At what point does sharing a personal experience become an infringement on another individual’s “intellectual property?”
Alexander Sayf Cummings and his book Democracy of Sound: Music Piracy and the Remaking of American Copyright in the Twentieth Century chronicles a century long battle against music piracy and examined how society reacted to the unique relationship piracy has shared with the music industry. Cummings makes a wonderful use of legal precedents, advertisements, and social commentary to follow the changing positions on piracy from a legal and cultural perspective. Before the reader is placed on the yellow brick road to all things related to copyright infringement and property rights, he attempts to clarify the distinctions between the important terms of pirating, bootlegging, and counterfeiting. Bootlegging is regarded as the documentation of “performances that had never been officially published” and is seen as a supplement rather than a deduction from the larger body of work.(5) A counterfeit is the unauthorized reproduction of something in an attempt to imitate an authentic item; while pirating is generally seen as the unauthorized use of work that is not your own. So by those definitions one could sell unpublished music in professional packaging and still be considered a bootlegger although, they are using tactics most counterfeiters employ to fool the consumer into thinking they are buying a legitimate item. While both of these acts are made possible by pirating, which is the unauthorized use of another individuals work, pirating does not automatically make you a bootlegger or a counterfeiter. The scenario also does not take into account that pirated works often mix published and unpublished material in compilations; this level of confusion underscores the vague nature of copyright law.
Cummings started in the late nineteenth with the creation of early recording devices, player pianos, and music boxes and progressed to the growing consumption of recorded music in the early twentieth century. Highlighted by the landmark cases White-Smith v. Apollo (1908) and Fonotipia v Bradley (1909) and the subsequent Copyright Act of 1909 the author set the stage for decades of legal battles over the concept of property rights in recorded music as well as the ownership and extent of those rights in relation to public domain. Throughout the book Cummings was careful to distinguish not all forms of piracy were not inherently malicious in intent but in fact were a response to the discontinuation of many lesser-known works of music. Although technically pirating, the individuals that participated had done it out of historical preservation for cultural works that would have other wise been lost forever. The climax of the book centered on the Sound Recording Act of 1971 and the Copyright Act of 1976, laws that marked a fundamental shift in the government’s view on property rights for musicians and the record industry. The act of 1971 transformed copyright from something designed to “promote the Progress of Science and Useful Arts” to the protection of business interest.(135) That shift in copyright approach was supported by the act of 1976 which extended protection to all ideas “expressed in tangible form” in both written and electronic forms. Cummings was quick to indicate even though record companies and artist had made huge strides for better copyright protection, it would not signal the end of piracy. For better or worse piracy was an integral component in the culture of enjoying music, as well the creation of certain musical genres like hip-hop.
Democracy of Sound tackled several important issues of law, morality, and culture of music consumption but the recurring theme was of the issue of property rights or what is often referred to as ‘intellectual property’ in the twenty-first century. The importance of property rights in relation to copyright and piracy cannot be overstated, that fact it was mentioned or alluded to in the book nearly fifty times is a testament to how difficult it was to adequately define and defend. The decline of physical media and the emergence of digital downloading and online streaming services have raised new questions about what constitutes ownership, and the fair use of digital media. The aggressive push to enforce DRM (digital rights management) by large software companies like Microsoft has once again thrown the discussion of property rights into the national dialog. Much like the face off between the record industry and the counterculture movement of the 1960’s; the debate over DRM has strong opinions on the side of the content producers and consumers. Regardless of the course future debates take, the work of skilled historians like Alexander Sayf Cummings is indispensable to the public discourse.
1) Do you agree with the author that music is a communal experience?
2) What role did the ever-changing medium music was stored on (vinyl to tapes, tapes to CDs) had on its ability to be pirated?
3) Does piracy become an integral part of the music culture if the federal government had a firmer grasp on property rights as it related to musicians and the recording industry in the early 20th century?
4) What was the bigger obstruction to the development of a more robust copyright law, progressivism? Or the vague distinctions between of pirating, counterfeiting, and bootlegging?
5) Does the cultural component of music necessitate piracy?
John Brinckerhoff Jackson, Landscape in Sight: Looking at America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997)
To John B. Jackson, the landscape is a “concrete, three-dimensional shared reality” which should be shared among everyone and easily understood (300). Before reading this book, I think we can all agree that we viewed our landscape as a physical scene found outside our window. Living 50 miles outside of Atlanta down a rural road full of small farms, I sometimes find myself taking the precious land my Father bought at 18 for granted. Although I did not find this as a true non-fiction book full of historical analysis, arguments and sources, Jackson helped me to appreciate the beauty behind the small farm I currently live on. Furthermore, after reading this book, I look at garages, roads, trailer park homes, and modern architecture in a different way.
Thanks to Daniel Horowitz’s wife and editor of this book, Helen Horowitz, we are introduced to Jackson and his prerogative in writing on landscape. Horowitz proposed a need to understand the history behind American Architecture. She wanted to understand how people in the past imagined and created the spaces in which they lived in. From this investigation, she discovered Jackson’s magazine publication Landscape, which was an outlet to write on American landscape and human geography from 1951 through 1996.
Although Jackson was not a trained geographer, he realized early on in his college career at Harvard his interest in human geography. He developed an eye for the beauty of American Southwestern terrain after college when he decided to become a cowboy in New Mexico. Later, he fell in love with the romantic, baroque architecture in Europe while serving in the Army during World War Two. After the war, he bought himself a jeep and decided to drive out West in America and took note of the Nation’s countryside with “fresh eyes.” (xix) While appreciating the past through classical architecture, farmlands, the American Southwest, and roads, Jackson was extremely quick to judge and criticize the emergence of modern architecture in the 1960s and the downfall of cultivation in farmlands once technology emerged on the land. One could say that he developed this sense of nostalgia while growing up in New England and appreciating the traditional and baroque architecture when traveling across Europe during World War Two.
In this book, Horowitz gathered numerous essays and accounts that Jackson wrote in his publication. Although there is no clear thesis, readers can sit back and enjoy a fresh new way of appreciating the classical human geography and architecture found in America, especially in the Southwest. Without the clear thesis or historical argument, the audience can read essays in a strategic chronological order that examines the Landscape in the past, present, and future.
The city of Optimo in the essay titled, “Almost Perfect Town,” hit home for me, because I come from a small town, where the Dallas Courthouse is crucial to the landscape and the center of sociability much like when Jackson is describing the courthouse in Optimo. He appreciates the value of these still hthe hundreds of Optimos throughout America, so valuable: the ties between country and town have not yet been broken. Limited though it may well be in many ways, the world of Optimo City is still complete.” (35)
Also, in the essay, “The Westward Moving House,” (81) Jackson gives a timeline of how the functions of homes and land have changed through time from the 1600s to the 1950s. One can see the beginnings of domesticity in the New World to the emergence of farmland technology that changed the relationships with landscapes a great deal in the 1950s. All throughout the book, Jackson is criticizing modernity, and this essay shows his criticism. He hates this idea of the new modern farmer much like Ray Tinkham in “Westward Moving Houses,” as he says they are not for the better in the later essay “Engineered Environment” (225).
When taking on the modern movement in architecture, one can see that Jackson despises the international modern style. He is an advocate for the vernacular function of land and homes, which is based on human needs and function, not to pleasure the human eye in aesthetics. When reading “Living Outdoors with Mrs. Panther,” (281) in which he wrote under his pseudonym Ajax, it is evident that he is mocking the modernity as Mr. and Mrs. Panther are explaining their new modern home of the 1960s. I found this essay a bit odd, but I read a little deeper and assumed that Jackson is possibly against the emerging counterculture movement of the 1960s? He writes Mrs. Panther’s dialogue on their new home, “When we have company I open some cans and toss a salad: we have a bottle of French wine, some cheese, and then sit around on cushions and discuss McCarthyism and how we dislike it.” (284)
All in all, I found this to be an interesting read and an overall eye-opener in how we can view the land we live on. Jackson is clearly frustrated with the modernity of architecture and homes when analyzing this collection of essays, but he finds great pleasure in the American Westward landscapes and the small towns that are dotted across the Nation, as most of the land can spark a sense of nostalgia within him. I was a bit confused, because some of it seemed fictional and other parts seemed historical, but I believe we can appreciate his passion for wanting Americans to always recreate a vernacular domesticity.
In looking at Elizabeth Blackmar’s essay, “Of REITS and Rights: Absentee Ownership in the Periphery,” she too discusses the degradation of land as it now becomes more of “nonmaterial form of property, a claim on a stream of income abstracted from geography” (83). She looks at the influx of shopping malls in the 1980s and 1990s and how the land has “lost its grounding in the natural world.” Now, REITS or Real Estate Investment Trusts are invested in a money game in attracting a great deal of home buyers with liquid mortgages, but the retail investors like Simon Properties and Bucksbaums’ General Growth Property are following the outward influx and practically calling the shots. Both Blackmar and Jackson criticize the direction in which landscape is following, which to them is a downward spiral. It is becoming less of a personal attachment and commodity and more of a financial game. Blackmar says that we are “severing our connection to the land that sustains us,”(98) which I am sure Jackson would agree.
Source of article: http://digital.library.pitt.edu/cgi-bin/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=pittpress;cc=pittpress;idno=31735060482266;rgn=full%20text;didno=31735060482266;view=image;seq=0091;node=31735060482266%3A1.8.1
This week, we will be looking at the problems that emerged in America’s cities and countryside in the late nineteenth century, amid urbanization, industrialization, and mass immigration to the United States. We will be particularly focusing on the Populist movement on Monday, and then the reformers of the Progressive Era on Wednesday.
To review, please watch these Crash Course videos:
Here are the slides for this week’s lectures:
Please also check out these Crash Course videos:
Here are the slides for the Democracy in Crisis and Second American Revolution lectures:
Also, please watch these Crash Course videos on slavery and the Mexican-American War:
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