The Great Beast Speaks and the Devil’s in the Details

Creative Commons was launched in 2001. The initial set of Creative Commons licenses were issued in 2002. Whether you like the idea, dislike it, or somewhere in between, in an age where our patent laws have changed little since they were created for mining claims, anyone who does anything to evolve this area of human existence deserves support. At Gnomedex 2007 I fed this into the chat on the big screen: "use peer to peer shared knowledge to form organic quantum computer, attach a creative commons vetting and credit process which includes, a nod to patents" as a starting point towards creating some sort of a dialogue for a digital trail meets rights string of ownership to promote turning a team based project theorem into a revenue stream. This way all the contributors would be credited for their involvement and paid in the event the final product or service became financially viable. Yea… not so much as a fart as a response. So, again, I put forth the idea that anyone, anywhere, that has an idea on how we can improve the creative commons model and or use some strategy to share impromptu ideas and get paid for it, please credit me and fill a paper bag full of greasy twenties. See my thoughts from six years ago below. – Rod

A Foreword to Kohel Haver’s COPYRIGHT and MOTION PICTURE PRODUCTION
by Rod Pitman

"Everything belongs to the inspired and dedicated thief… They supplicate him from the bored minds of school children, from the prisons of uncritical veneration, from dead museums and dusty archives… He must assure himself of the quality of the merchandise and its suitability for his purpose before he conveys the supreme honor and benediction of his theft… We are not responsible. Steal anything in sight."

-William S. Burroughs, ‘Les Voleurs’

Always keep a passport and a phalanx of attorneys in your pocket, you’ll be fine. Kohel Haver and I first met as volunteers on the board of a non-profit organization, fronting for an insane asylum, that was a cover for a black ops project known as the "Frequency Fence." This bio-neurological, electromagnetic induced form of mind control blocks the higher sensory abilities. With the discovery that electrical power generating stations and household appliances were being utilized to "broadcast" electromagnetic distortion and create a perceptual mental chain-gang, I felt all our good work was looking rather grim.

A good attorney is both vile and pernicious, but the downside is they are all infected with Bagnarians disease. A world class proctologist at Oregon Health Sciences University described the symptoms as "virtually undetectable" until the infected become totally consumed by their own asshole. It makes a simple outbreak of meningitis pale in comparison. Regardless, Kohel and I have gotten along like two innocent men in a maximum security cell. My hysteria and hallucinations increased as it became more apparent that things were turning really wrong with the recurring theme being ‘botched civilization.’ Kohel kept reminding me that he was not a criminal attorney [I think he meant his activities were limited to petty crimes and misdemeanors] and ended most of his sentences with "I don’t want to know." Unfortunately, this was less than reassuring with sweet dreams not to be.

Kohel initially struck me as a chubby, bon vivant prince. A cross between a man dressed as a woman trying to get on the life boat, and Elmer Fudd in Khakis bearing automatic weapons. Don’t get me wrong, maybe not the last of the buffalo, but a sexy beast none the less. With the detachment of a chrysalis he was quite the conversationalist, leaping off the starting block by quoting one or several of Boetcker’s "Seven National Crimes":

  1. I don’t think.
  2. I don’t know.
  3. I don’t care.
  4. I am too busy.
  5. I leave well enough alone.
  6. I have no time to read.
  7. I am not interested.

This was usually accompanied by a reptilian licking of the lips in concert with his eyes darting suspiciously back and forth as if searching for some ill-imagined furtive move. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and venture to say these "mannerisms" were more simian in nature, possibly a holdover from the bend in his genetic road map.

When Kohel asked me to make a contribution towards his venture into this written nether world, my bibliophobia aside, the paranoia ran deep. I initially thought he was banking on the notoriety of my capital crimes and RICO violations to spark enough search engine cross references and subsequent book sales to propel his disenfranchised children through ivy league. The more I contemplated this, the less reasonable it seemed. What became self evident was the pressing question of; In this mental prison of the malicious, snooping, interfering, and self righteous, who can you trust more than a cell mate? He may be confused about a number of things, but one thing is for sure, after our mutual dealings with a group of rubes who were totally lacking in humor, charity, and common human decency, he would never enlist me to push dogma, as we both know all too well, that is where all intellectual activity ceases.

Whatever Kohel’s motivation might be in having me cough up this hairball, any good that may come of it is a double edged sword. Imagine the fear that must coarse through the veins at night as he ponders what I may have "nicked" in this little prequel that could come back to haunt him. Forget the fact that my participation immediately brands him as a leper with his colleagues. I’ve been scapegoated and demonized by a lot worse, but now that the attorneys are running Hollywood, his including my preamble in this book may put the whole legal profession at risk. My expose on their cabalistic language, Masonic handshakes, corrupt judges, insider deals, etc., puts the whole idea of a bar ethics committee [what an oxymoron] in question.

Maybe Kohel figures; "What difference does it make anyway." Worse case he might be opening himself up to more professional jealousy. It’s like the Gideons filing a copyright suit against King James. Maybe I need to give him more credit. After all, one has to be pretty fluid to move freely between the uptown "professionals" and the downtown villainy. As you can see I used the term professionals loosely. It’s always been my experience that whenever the subject of "lack of professionalism" is brought up [which is bound to happen when the assassins see my name] that usually indicates someone trying to "snow the snowman" by getting you to "assume the position," hoping that’s where everyone’s eyes are as the accuser perpetrates his criminal act under the guise of "professionalism" or good sensibility and "proper" codes of conduct acceptable within the community.

Call me crazy, but I bet there’s an attorney right now filing suit against this textual tantrum. John and Jane Doe vs. Kohel Haver, et. al., [I'm assuming I'll be covered under his malpractice policy] "Judge, this writing is both the perpetrator and the victim’s cerebral DNA sample exposed." If they take it before a hanging judge and flash him the cryptic hand signal he’ll grant a temporary injunction "For Texas and Miss Lilly." Then they can sort out who the plaintiffs are in this class action lawsuit later.

I’m sorry to say the subject of this book is an exercise in compromised nihilism that collapses every time it seems like it makes any kind of sense. I suggest Kohel contact a good sex mag and cut a deal to intersperse his text with pictures of mutually supportive subject matter. Even though it’s hard to tell where the impetus for this manifesto starts or leaves off, giving credit where credit is due, [no pun intended] we are taken to the abyss of rather droll subject matter, then adeptly brought back to question the existence of authentic ideas in a manner that begs to ask the carnal question as to what reality does the concept of intellectual property being proprietary conform?

Just because this is a daunting task, don’t let that be a deterrent to your education. One thing I can tell you, there is nothing here that is predictable. In a world where the paternalistic instincts of an entertainment attorney can easily spill over into the paedophile, one cannot help but get the many paradoxes found in the subject matter, as well as the underlying feeling of propriety mixed with dirty thoughts such as those that might be aroused by meeting the children’s teacher in a porn shop. I’m not knocking the profession here entirely. In Kohel’s case I suspect he at least has a higher class of client than his "slip and fall," divorce, or heaven forbid corporate law compadres. Speaking of which, when his legal amigos hear the horse hooves through the intellectual property doorway, they will undoubtedly all cry out "Quien es? Quien Es? (Who [or I should say Who's there?] is it?) If they like the answer they will send someone a bill, otherwise it’s Bat Masterson in a new suit, it’s a lawsuit, and you’ll have one in the morning.

With this bible of Kohel’s in one hand and creative license in the other, "the suits" get their necessary platitudes as mechanisms for a capitalistic order in this "’karma’ sutra like" instruction manual, and the artist gets some relief for the anxiety and panic caused by their hip-hopish maniacal knee jerk mistrust of conformity. Makes for a nice literary symbiosis, however the relationship drawn here is both enigmatic and complex. On the one hand you are "keeping the allowance" coming for some, [so they can buy more milk and crayons] while allowing others to have the freedom to keep dreaming their psychic visions of car crashes without the fear of infringing on copyrights.

Enough of the big words, let’s put on some garlic, grab the mirrors, a cross and drive a stake in this puppy. Apologies all around, but Kohel didn’t hand me this task because I mince words. Watch out if you have some sort of a monolithic God crush, this preamble is not meant as a testament towards good loosing to evil, but in a landscape so spiritually barren, Lennon’s quote; "God is a concept by which we measure our pain." becomes easily believable to those on the fence. This is not a book of prayer, and subsequently where one may previously have viewed art as something aesthetic, it quickly takes on such a nightmarish hue and covetous overtone, that if old testament King David’s art was his "Secret Sin," then Bathsheba’s pregnancy would be the proof of her plagiarism. Moses could sign for the sequel, then make a come back with a few new commandments. Better hide the tablets, but for now, the jury is out.

Like a preface to some Aleister Crowley children’s story, with the knowledge you learn from here forward, you can never go back. After various deliberations I forced this summary, which I’m afraid, underplays the ways in which this tome becomes a camera obscura. Without Hollywood, [which is now run by attorneys] there would be less of a need for this book. Here is a group whose ethical compass is so lost they write their own movie reviews. Now I will take the opportunity to point out the double speak madness that comes with the subject matter. Here we have humans pointing at other humans and saying "You’re the Karaoke Singer," "No, you’re the Karaoke singer." "You can’t steal from me what I’ve worked so hard to steal from others without even asking." It’s ridiculous. Theft may be the highest form of flattery, but ultimately, it usually boils down to who has the pawn ticket.

So let’s elevate this whole debate a little, while at the same time reducing it in simplicity to playing both sides of a game of go. My answer to an intellectual property theft conviction [as with horse stealing, etc.] is this; Get a noose. The attorneys are already trying to figure out who owns the intellectual property rights to our public executions so they can put together a distribution deal. We can put these "intellectual property criminals" to death in some equivalent of a public square, and I will guarantee above and beyond anything the "right to lifers" have to say, it will be a real deterrent. Have these live executions run first on CSPAN. Then sell the rights to a cartoon cable channel with the proceeds going to a national "scared straight" program. And… with good prime time ratings now practically requiring sexual frisson combined with blood lust we can run an "intellectual property rights executions compilation extravaganza" with laughs for the whole family. I’m not saying a few innocent people won’t slip through the trap door, but I think the marketing and pr people can spin it as "the price of democracy." In any case, the price is right.

If someone hires Robert Shapiro to "litigate" the infidels, the defendants can have a Johnny Cochran moment, or visa versa. I can hear Johnny now, reciting some Decarsean monologue about "What is reality anyway?" or "Even a fool knows, you can’t own parts of the moon."

You see, the people in Hollywood think they are all geniuses. What they don’t realize is that true genius is the ability to recognize it in others. But then again, "the business" [not unlike "the family" or "our thing"] is a secret society that can’t tell a joke, much less a good story, and all their scripts and suicide notes sound the same. This is a direct result of God’s just anger against their evil, cutting them off from His goodness and the good movies that would otherwise be intrinsically theirs if they had not traded the quest for moral beauty (righteousness) for the moronic, insane privilege of defining good film on their own, ultimately self-destructive, terms.

You may think that all rationality has broken down at this point, so I’ll introduce this quasi-abstract theorem to get us back on terra firma. Godel’s proof; "A mathematical proof that under a specified consistency condition, any sufficiently strong formal axiomatic system must contain a proposition such that neither it nor its negation is provable and that any consistency proof for the system must use ideas and methods beyond those of the system itself. -Kurt Godel

Better yet. Quoting from Wheeler’s Recognition Physics: ‘Nothing exist until it is observed.’ Use that if you are the plaintiff, or show the "art" has been altered seven percent if you are the defendant. There’s my free jailhouse lawyer advise. Whose a shameless faker? It’s like my own bar-b-q sauce or salad dressing. ‘Guaranteed’ to expose any posing miscreant Scaramouch.

I’m not just trying to baffle with bull here. "There is no such thing as science fiction, only science fact." I want to say Arthur C. Clarke, said that, but if the spirit moves you, send Kohel an email if I’m wrong. Haver addresses the same concept here as Scenes a fair. (There is nothing new under the sun"). Currently, human evolution is such that our brains, as they exist now, are unable to originate, or comprehend an original idea in this or any other parallel universe. I accuse alien replicants and other board members of this as if it’s a heinous crime, knowing full well it will fry what little is left of their cerebral hard drives. Ain’t I a stinker? One might think I’m obsessively dragging for bodies in this swamp, but this is the area that deserves every bit of attention and the book would be weightless without it.

In America [probably other places too] anyone can sue for anything. In L.A. it’s a corporate plot line. Whether they are right or wrong, It’s akin to being "nibbled to death by a duck." What I’ve addressed here in a rather laborious manner, you can use as a tool. A guideline. It’s good. Too good actually. First it seems useful, then reality kicks in and it’s horrible. Horrible and sad. If you want the be all end all, send Kohel a retainer check. Isn’t that what this is all about anyway? Haver, this is the equivalent of holding my crotch and pimping hard for ya baby! I’ll put on a short skirt and you can take me out and buy me a steak.

In practice, if you as the artist are going to create something, my suggestion would be to dash out a script outline and follow it [even for the most impromptu shots, because going back to get the release later might be tough] like an anal "rights and clearances" person whose life depends on the talent and location release, or the product placement/product usage request. Then take a minute and think about what’s going to be "in the frame" in advance. In some instances, with their permission, it behooves you to shoot celebrities first, then ask them to sign the release. Once they have done the shot, they feel like they have already "done the work," and they know if they pass the release to "their people," their work will never see the light of day. Of course, you know that having their people read the release ahead of time will never result in any footage either. So you have everything to gain and nothing to loose.

Use stock footage for your establishment shots or your missing second unit transitions. No, on second thought, don’t shoot anything original. Never shoot anything. Just use stock footage. You can add subtitles if you like. It will help you come in on budget and no one will care or know the difference.

If you go to all the trouble of actually thumbing through this book, try to ingest some of the value. Right now we have an undeniable cultural epidemic of suicidal consumer binging. This is brought on by the screws placing everyone in a TV-addled marketing coma, supported by music, sports, cars, food, fashion, etc. Here may be our last chance to return to anything real. Bringing democracy instead of mind control to the airwaves may all boil down to how you use this book. And just know from the get go that any introduction of truth into your cocktail may result in your becoming a self imposed social vagrant.

As I think of the "new barbarians" plundering "race music" with their cliff notes, Elbert Hubbard brings me back down to earth by putting everything in perspective; "Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive." Oh, and if you think for a second you can reprint this "mythopoeic thought" without my express permission, I’ll sue you blue.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to scare anyone. I’m just suggesting you calmly and cautiously approach this material as one would choose a pair of pliers to separate the kids from their first loose tooth. I can’t speak for Stalin or Gandhi, but the good work Kohel’s put into this seems perfectly reasonable to me.

Godspeed.

The Compound, Jerome, Arizona, June 11, 2001

c Rod Pitman 2001

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[tags]creative commons, copyright, intellectual property[/tags]