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The Free Art Conundrum

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Some time ago, I realized that to be a good little anarchist, there were certain things in my life I'd have to start to do without. After I got out of the proprietary OS trap, and stopped playing the whole "must have a job, must have good credit" financial scam, and stopped voting, and ditched some of those false ethics that capitalistic society needs for us to believe in so that their whole 10%-rich-vs-90%-poor social model to work, I started focusing my attention to entertainment.

Now, I'm not that difficult to entertain. I read a lot, I mess around with Linux a lot, and I'll make whatever kind of art I'm inspired to make at any given moment. But sometimes one wants to sit back and, say, watch a movie or listen to an album or something. The problem with the latter forms of entertainment is that they support the broken business model that is Time Warner, Vivendi, EMI, and, what, a couple other big companies?

So, in short, I figured out I had to start really being serious about local and independent art.

The problem there is, how do we define "independent"? It's always been a problem with art, because sometimes "independent" simply means "not in the same vein as the current competition" (which is why some people will define bands like "Bat For Lashes" as "independent" even though they're signed with Astralwerks >> Virgin/EMI), but sometimes it is a more objective statement meaning that an artist is independent of any "big" established business....and of course then you get into the question of what "big" really means. Is an artist not independent if their records are being sold via K Records? they <em>are</em> on a record label, after all. If a group of three independent artists band together to create a cooperative organization to promote their art, are they no longer independent? And so on.

This was the eternal question for me until at last I started really getting familiar with Free Software and that most marvelous document, the GPL. If we judge Free Software to be free if it is GPL'd, then I reckon the way to judge Free Art is by way of its Creative Common status.

This makes a lot of sense, but the problem is that there's actually not all that much art out there that is creative commons.

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