On Art and Intellectual Property

The question that came  up was something about ekphrastic art and when is it  a collaboration, and when is it plagiarism, or appropriation, or  something unethical  like that.  Generally, I’m an admirer of Woody Guthrie, and I love what he said about  people using his music without permission, I don’t remember the actual quote, I’m paraphrasing, but it was something like: “If somebody sings one of my songs, well they’re a pretty  good friend of mine.”  He didn’t  really  take a proprietary view of things.
I can understand the opposite attitude, of course.  For some, art  is a career, which means they can’t afford to treat  it  as a hobby.

But, I think the argument is likely to soon  become moot.  Art, of course, has always been full  of fraud, appropriation, forgery, and all sorts of skullduggery.  Now, however, with  the advent  of  the internet, we are in a whole new world.  It is a world in which ideas are seen  instantly by  millions of people and masses  of people  can instantly decide to all  mangle the same meme, in  a thousand different directions.  A poet sees a painting and  writes a poem about it.  A musician is inspired by a book.  A film is  inspired by a video game.
I’m  not saying that in the future all  art will be ekphrastic art.  There will  always be new love songs, and beautiful paintings inspired by  nature.
But a lot  will  be, and there’s no stopping it.

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