Owning What Isn’t: Copyright and Conceptual Art

Read the Story

Show Top Comments

>Copyright wasn’t created to protect art or artists; it was created to protect publishers.

Copyright was not originally based on the rights of publishers. It originates with the Stationers’ Company, which intended to “stem the flow of seditious and heretical books” for the crown. Later, it did become about giving monopoly rights to publishers and distributors, with an interesting pretext that did make some sense. The stated reasoning was that typesetting is an extremely time-consuming and error-prone process, and allowing a free-for-all would degrade the integrity of written works. Then, that excuse went out the window but we kept the state censorship and it became a straightforward protectionist measure. The purpose is to turn public goods into club goods, because market failures means you’re just not marketing hard enough. If you let people communicate cultural information freely, you can’t guarantee profits for private fiefdoms holding the commons hostage for rent or to sell audiences to advertisers. That’s an interesting justification too, mainly for how it goes almost completely unquestioned and unchallenged, while having even less moral footing than preventing the spread of heresy and sedition.

And actually, there’s another transformation happening now, looking at platforms like youtube, where it’s not *really* even about publishers anymore because the concept of physically publishing anything is fast becoming obsolete. The bulk of it is monopoly rights as capital to be bought, sold and passed around like any other. Youtube doesn’t give a damn about claiming exclusivity, so they don’t. They’re the auction house. They just see information as some sort of fungible liquid endlessly gushing out of the ground, that they can automatically pipe where it’s wanted based on kind of the way it smells. So, now they can shovel eyeballs directly at Bernays’ little helpers, without really taking on any of the burdens of proprietorship and monopoly. And any “creator” can be a self-made ward of the public relations industry. They might technically retain copyright by default, but they can’t actually *do* anything with it, since all the take-down heuristics are written for the IP cartels with the real monopolies, and everyone else is just becoming a shapeless mass of at least part-time freelance marketers.

Of course, copyright never had anything at all to do with authorship rights, or plagiarism or anything like that. Those are wholly different concepts that don’t exist in law and offer absolutely no legal recourse.

tl;dr – copyright started out even shittier than described and is by now turning into some kind of neoliberal fever dream, where capitalists absolve themselves of more and more responsibility while claiming ever-greater control over the flow of information


Don’t know if this article is discussing the merits of copyright or if it is talking about if whether or not it is possible to copyright very basic forms of artwork that could almost be accidentally replicated.

Narrowly defined, copyright is the right to make copies of something. If you don’t have “copy rights” then you cannot copy a given work. As someone who is mostly anti-IP, I think a narrow definition of copyright has nothing to do with protecting ideas or production methods. It refers specifically to producing and selling replicas (different than producing a product with the same function. Patent law would prohibit you from making something like something else even if it is not a copy.)


Art is free, otherwise it’s merchandise.


If anyone is interested in any similar reading, I highly recommend: Of Remixology by David Gunkel



> American copyright, in turn, was founded on the notion that offering copyright protection would provide the necessary incentive to grow the marketplace of ideas,

How can this be an article about philosophy when the author isn’t asking if this was a pretense only without examining the impact?

The first granted monopolies were made as a sort of payment of a king. But when England introduced the copyright law in 1710 it changed the landscape of creation immediately. The English book market became a oligopoly of a few publishers which caused book prices as high as one weekly wage. Germany introduced a copyright not before 1900 which caused a market for authors since an author was able to change the publisher at any time. Publishers like S. Fischer were involved into the acquisition of authors. Book prices went down to the amount of 1-2 hours of a workers labor.

The differences in Copyright laws are huge. While the anglo saxon world is allowing a total sell out, French and German copyright laws are allowing just the usage. Nevertheless most authors have no choice than to grant a sort of monopoly for a publisher because of economics even in France or Germany.

The question is here, what can we do about the difference between pretense and intention and why are so many uncritical about a narrative about the copyright?


Bertrand Russell on why philosophy matters: opening the mind beyond the ‘tyranny of custom’

Read the Story

Show Top Comments

By thoughtfully dwelling on subjects bigger than ourselves, we attain a humble tranquility.

love this quote from the article! thanks for sharing.


If you like this, then check out Russels book The Scientific Outlook. It is his amazingly accurate prediction of a scientific dictatorship in the future, published in 1931. It pairs well with Aldous Huxley’s book A Brave New World.


Love the notion of a “region of liberating doubt”, as in this line:

>[Philosophy] removes the somewhat arrogant dogmatism of those who have never travelled into the region of liberating doubt.

That doubt questions, among others, one’s own framings.



The writings of towering 20th-century philosopher Bertrand Russell have drawn many great thinkers to the subject. This article discusses his famous rallying cry for philosophy’s value, as outlined in his 1912 book The Problems of Philosophy.


I’m inspired and starting to read but was curious about Russell and his political or social actions, what is it called when a philosopher actually takes action based on his learnings?


To make laziness work for you, put some effort into it – Burton

Read the Story

Show Top Comments

Am I the only person who feels the title’s statement was not really addressed in the article?


An interesting read. Theres something about idleness that implies “satisfaction”. As a 20 year old man, I find myself struggling with motivation to better myself. I am not lazy. In fact I am told by my supervisors honestly Im one of the hardest workers they have. What I think I struggle with is apathy. As someone who struggles with nihilistic thoughts and existential dread (I was raised from a very young age by Zealous Christians to believe the entire world and everything in it was going to be consumed in hellfire before I was 18, and that greatly affected my thought processes in my most formative years), I struggle to even want to better my living situation. I know my life as it is isn’t sustainable, I dont make enough money to raise a family, or own my own home. But when I start to make the necessary moves towards betterment I feel nothing but futility. I am working past it though, in no small way thanks to Dr. Peterson and several other leaders in my life. I am working on getting an insurance agency license (relatively low cost to get into and potentially above average pay) and am trying to overcome and become as much as I can.


Interesting read. Yet there is very little facts and tactics behind it. How do we realize our potential and become living? How do we divide between mindless effort and colorful art?

My personal tactic is to reduce it too stress factors and coping mechanism. I tend to escape to imaginary goals and stories about the people I have met. I have been doing this since highschool, to cope with an extremely boring life with many rules and studying and no excitement.

This in turn has to do with how neural signals get dampened by habit, so that my motor skills do not get activated, instead focusing on constant mental activity, such as internal dialogue, memory recall, emotional stress from recalled memories and rationalizing of past intense experiences.

I am now doing martial arts and acting improvisation and it seems to improve my reactions to stimuli. Hopefully my real needs will surface and I will start doing what is necessary to survive instead of slowly drifting to complete anxiety and madness.


I commit to my lazyness by carrying all 10 bags of groceries up 3 floors of stairs so that I can do it in one trip! My wifes pov is a strong husband bringing in the groceries for her. #suchahardworker


Surprised to not see any link to the eastern practice of meditation in the article. To me, practicing meditation is akin to the kind of idleness described here. It allows thoughts to flow more coherently and is a tough discipline to fully master.


Homi Bhabha: We must create new codes of interpretational good practice if we’re to navigate this new world, not of Post-Truth but of ‘alternative truths’, where multiple ideologies vie to impose their own view

Read the Story

Show Top Comments

“There are no moral phenomena at all, but only a moral interpretation of phenomena” -Nietzsche


You really have to be deeply ignorant of history to think that “multiple ideologies vying to impose their own view” is a new phenomenon.


I have general issues with Homi Bhabhas work. I’ve read some of his work where he rails against Western ideological dominance as discriminatory, while making specific linguistic choices that allow only the most erudite (who are primarily comprised of wealthy elites) to access the text. I believe it to be a deliberate rhetorical choice that is intended to speak ONLY to that audience, and not because they are the ones that need to be convinced. No, it’s philosophical argument that should belong to the entire world. Instead, Bhabha seems to deliberately choose the language of the people he accuses of discrimination, not realizing the irony of his position. By using language choices that are directly determined by socioeconomic background, Bhabha is likewise discriminating against people who fall below that socioeconomic line. It is akin to making a statement like: “Those crackers and honkies are racist, but not me. All white people are racist, but I’m not.” It is ironically likewise discrimination, and I won’t follow the argument of people who accuse others of discrimination by being hypocritically discriminatory themselves. It shows ignorance and bias.


I thought it was the physicist. :/


you can have ideology without imposing it. you can also communicate it without it being a threat to aomeone else’s worldview.

it isn’t hard, just take data as data and assess the bias yourself


In-depth interview with Rebecca Goldstein, author of numerous bestselling books with explicitly philosophical themes!

Read the Story

Show Top Comments

It was an interesting interview, but beyond name dropping a lot fi the philosophers she is interested/experinced in there is a whole lot of a discussion of the actually philosophy itself other than the questions concerning Spinoza and Hume. Interedting interview none the less, but felt more biographical the philosophical.

Edit: Also as a small aside I find that most novelists have some philosophical or political theme running through them. It is just that fiction isn’t a systematic examination of ideas but an instantiation of them in a narrative setting that attempts to showcase how this philosophical outlook affects the world.


I would have liked to listen to it, but modern technology made me too lazy to read such a long interview… It would have been so much easier for them to just share the recording instead of transcribing everything?!


Exploring the philosophy and biology of race

Read the Story

Show Top Comments


> Quayshawn Spencer asks a simple question about race with a not-so-simple answer: What kind of thing is it? Spencer, Robert S. Blank Presidential Associate Professor of Philosophy, poses the question to undergraduates in his Philosophy of Race course. He is a specialist in the philosophies of science, biology, and race, and his course examines the very nature and reality of race, beginning with early theories put out by European thinkers including François Bernier and Immanuel Kant. Kant’s 18th-century essay “Of the Different Human Races” provided a scientific definition of race that would influence a long tradition of scholars using science to reinforce negative racial stereotypes—a tradition that Spencer’s course investigates alongside more contemporary philosophical, social, and political questions about race and racism.


If race is purely a social construct, used to keep some people up and some down, we should stop using it as though it is legitimate. If we need to refer to people’s biological background you would say “euro-american” rather than White. I think that every time we say the words White or Black to describe people we feed into a system of oppression. Since I started thinking that way, I have begun to feel sick when I hear people everywhere from news and politics to media to academia using those terms as though they are a real thing.
To me calling people White or Black is just the same as calling people Aryan or Cimmarian, or Hyperborean. It’s BS, just a trick we’re perpetuating every day, that causes us harm.


Very interesting subject! I’d be curious to know how nominalism or social constructivist theories of truth and/or ontology intersect with race – does it become more difficult to reject a harmful social construct when you see *all* truths as similarly constructed, or does that give us more ability to alter ontologies as we’d like?


It’s too bad that discussions of race tend to wind up with people rallying around their chosen understandings of race theory, and *then* (dis)engaging with the material at hand.

This, as I understand it, is the central question of Professor Spencer’s course: Is race the sort of thing that one can use to support non-accidental biological generalizations (similar to species or populations), or can it be used, at best, to support social generalizations?

To help students answer it (or to find that they can’t) the course starts with the beginnings of what we would recognize as modern race theory, examining the science that has been applied to the question from a philosophical standpoint.

In the end, this is simply an audible course description, but it does leave an interesting conundrum, because it hints at the fact that neither the realist nor antirealist viewpoints are entirely correct, thus opening the possibility that its the attempt to determine a single kind of thing for race to be that’s the problem.


Nobody of any scientific renown has thought that different races are different species in at least 30 years. We can interbreed so we are one species. It is as simple as that. All race is, is the adaptarions our bodies have taken over generations to help people survive in different places.