The Musician As Thief Discussion

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"The Musician As Thief: Digital Culture and Copyright Law," Discussion

By Daphne Keller

John Cage's Williams Mix

Alone Again (Naturally) Biz Markie vs. Gilbert O'Sullivan


Jeff Koons vs. Art Rogers

Art Rogers
Photograph (1980)

Jeff Koons
String of Puppies(1988)
Wood painted sculpture

Discussion Questions:

  • Keller claims the fair use do "test asks both how creative or transformative the second work is and whether it displaces the first product in the market." How would you judge the Koons example from above? The Biz Markie?
  • Keller claims that while technology "will change the way we think about information and produce culture" its has not caused Benjamin Kaplan's predicted "corresponding change in the law."
  • If what is "new and creative about sample based production" is the selection, arrangement and juxtaposition of found bits" and it is also a "culturally productive act simple to discover and draw attention to a fragment of text, image or sound" should the ramifications of fair use, which have never really been put to trial successfully in court, be expanded? If simply drawing attention to a fragment is culturally important, can simply stealing it and republishing it also be important?
  • Keller argues that "Copyright law should respond to [the cultural shift embodied in music sampling] if it is to serve its Constitutional "Promote the Progress" goal and the First Amendment's free expression goal." Are enlightenment ideals of freedom of expression, democratization and progress the best way to approach the revolution in intellectual property (or at least in its use and reuse)?

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