I also realized I haven't felt like thinking or talking much about what I do as a DJ, because it's the one thing I don't need to analyze, when all day I spend analyzing this and that (and defending it in all the different disciplines I quest through).
But I thought it might be good to share some of the things I'm thinking about.
Starting with a paper I'm writing for a seminar I'm in. It's a legal seminar so it's tied to making a specific legal proposal based in some empirical observation and analysis (which in itself rather daring since evidence is not a huge basis for legal theory), and I'm focusing on the value of unrecorded music, especially improvised music (that is not recorded either in sheet music or during the performance). So the questions start out:
- are there features of improvising and improvisatory performance that have social value beyond their memory or any possible recording? Improvisations are works and actions, but is there anything about the ACT of improvising that is important?
I'm not sure if I'm improvising when I dj, except that I do think I make some of the choices improvisers talk about, while djing. But the argument for improvisation is a springboard for making a kind of argument about social value that is hard to make in standard copyright law discussions, so I've got to dig a bit deeper into it.
- If improv has some social values, how does that value exist across different kinds of improvising? (for example, I've just read a lot of free-jazz theorists talking about improvising as modeling a kind of social interaction that is spontaneous, collaborative, and even democratic, that leaves room for dissension and interaction. How does that work in non-free-jazz music improv -like maybe bluegrass? or is it true for improv comedy or improv dance? is it all performance?
- What are the conditions under which that positive social value happens or is likely to happen?
- Since copyright law to some extent can affect the conditions under which these practices happen, how does it facilitate, harm, limit or alter that social value (especially under changing conditions, like new technology)? Should we reshape copyright in some way to allow more of that social goodness?
- for example, we have limitations on copyright and other laws when works are used for educational purposes - sometimes explicitly (as in the special exception for film professors who want to make clips of films for demonstration purposes) or implicitly (as part of a fair use defense).
- Should we have a limitation on copyright enforceability in other sites of musical improvisation?
- underlying this, of course, is how relevant is copyright law, and who feels its effects since they are clearly not felt equally everywhere. But that's beyond the scope of the assignment, which, being in a law school, assumes law is relevant.
whew. that's probably enough for now.
here's a cute picture of my cat.