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Monday, September 10, 2012

Let the Music Live on

Early this year, an unknown NBA player rocked the basketball world and created a global following which they called “Linsanity”. I am not a basketball fan nor am I from the USA but such phenomenon also penetrated my consciousness and those of other Filipinos through various media. Jeremy Lin did not coin the word but being the focus of said phenomenon also thought of copyrighting “Linsanity” so that nobody could use it without his permission.

Copyrighting gives the creator of an original work exclusive right to it for a limited time, and it definitely serves a purpose yet it has also been taken advantage by some unscrupulous people for profit. There are some works that are so distinct that an individual can easily own it but culture? Culture sets a group of people apart from others through their practices, beliefs, lifestyle, arts, music yet it is constantly changing as people move about or come in contact through different means. You could copyright a music which you have composed, that is your creation and you could own it. But how could just one person own a tradition that has been passed on from generation?

Yet it is not just on this premise that the Free Culture Movement wants to further their cause. They also recognize the people for their works but they believe that ownership should be limited since creativity grows if people are allowed access to the work of others to create their own works. It allows one’s “creation” to have a life of its own as it expands to other works not just in the same medium but even more. Individuals, companies, the whole world have been allowed easy and sometimes even free access to new technologies, arts, music and so many other things because of the people that allowed others to work on their platforms. I know I have benefited so much from work of people that advocates this movement, not just professionally (nope, I am not an artist but I refer to the efficiencies that came about in my office because of the open systems) but also culturally as I get to explore the culture of the world through various free access on the internet.

In my country where copyright infringement and “piracy” is rampant, I believe a clear understanding of the advocacies of the Free Culture Movement, like having a creative commons license where traditional rights of copyright owners for an “all rights reserved”, which is constantly violated, are modified to “some rights reserved” would allow the Philippine Artists, particularly those in the Music Industry better protection and benefits. Such would lessen the temptation to infringe on the right of the original artists by other legitimate artists and other individuals knowing that a better option is available for them that would be beneficial to both parties.

In the class video presentation, Dr. Muller has presented how Feld approached Herbie Hancock admonishing him for the use of hindewhu in the Head hunters album particularly Watermellon Man. Hancock recreated the sound in his album but used his own instruments including a beer bottle instead of papaya flute used by the pygmies. Maybe I am insane but viewing the class presentations made me realize how lucky the Bayaka pygmies are compared to our Aetas and for that matter so many other tribes in the Philippines. Through the effort of other artists and ethnomusicologist, their musical tradition has a place in world music, I don’t even have an idea on the music tradition of most of the tribes in our country and I am pretty sure they have or used to have one. I wouldn’t mind… well in fact I would really love it if somebody learn their music and share it with the world. He could get all the money but at least it will open up their music to the world! And maybe, when such happens, the young generation would value the tradition of their elders and create more such musical tradition not just for the world but also their next generation so the music lives on.

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