Re: [Frameworks] UBU - Not Pirates. A response to the UBU thread

From: Ekrem Serdar (email suppressed)
Date: Sat Oct 16 2010 - 12:27:01 PDT

A small note on cash, whether related to UBU or not: Canyon Cinema's total
income has seen a pretty steady increase over the past two decades,
according to Scott MacDonald's Canyon Cinema book. Just a couple numbers
(these are all total income from rentals and film/video sales):

1973 - 1974: $37,000 (this is all film rentals - first figures for video and
film sales appear in 1985 and 1988 respectively)
1983 - 1984: $42,567
1993 - 1994: $80,103
2002 - 2003: $179, 184 (high point)
2006 - 2007: $130,479

I doesn't look like these numbers are adjusted to inflation, but using
this Inflation
Calculator <>, it seems that while their
latest figure is not as high as it was in 1973 (37,000 then = $159,174 in
2009), the 2006-2007 budget is higher then it was in 1993 ($80,103 then
=$114,319 in 2009). Now, 2007 is not 2010, but I take these numbers to mean,
don't do the crazy freak out, just keep at it.

On Sat, Oct 16, 2010 at 1:29 PM, Steve Polta <email suppressed> wrote:

> It's amazing how this conversation keeps returning. UBU's practices and
> ethics, then artists' vs. viewers' rights in re work, then income, then
> copyright. Not always in this order but as a complicated cluster of ideas.
> Again and again, over the years, this conversation has come around.
> David Teztlaff introduces the concept of violation—violation as a response
> to breaking and entering, physical theft, invasion, beyond a sense of loss
> of property, a sense of unsafe-ness.
> In terms of this ever-returning conversation, it's notable that it almost
> always begins with an expression of a similar sense of violation—that
> somehow a filmmaker or film has been treated disrespectfully. David
> discounts the validity of this expression in comparison to actual theft—and
> I do not dispute this. But it should be noted that many artists *do* feel a
> sense of violation and disrespect at such practices as UBU's (for example).
> Maybe these artists shouldn't feel this way. Maybe they should get with it
> and embrace this new media world. It's notable that the course of these
> discussions there is almost always a *rapid* shift away from these charged
> emotional issues into a vigorous discussion of copyright, legality and the
> rights of those who wish to access works. These voices are loud and use a
> rationalist language that deflects the discussion into these new terms.
> In trying to figure out my personal position on these issues I keep this in
> mind. I tend to empathize with this sense of violation (although I'm pretty
> sure that none of my own works have been pirated). There is the suggestion
> that this sense of violation is erroneous, that those who feel this way are
> misguided. But this sense of violation is a common emotion and strong in
> many filmmakers (many many of whom are not active on Frameworks). Is the
> sense misguided? Are we just old and in the way? I dunno. But I thank David
> for introducing the idea for our collective consideration.
> Steve Polta
> --- On *Sat, 10/16/10, David Tetzlaff <email suppressed>* wrote:
> From: David Tetzlaff <email suppressed>
> Subject: Re: [Frameworks] UBU - Not Pirates. A response to the UBU thread
> To: "Experimental Film Discussion List" <email suppressed>
> Date: Saturday, October 16, 2010, 4:30 AM
> Anita Ponton makes several crucial points. I was going to post about a
> couple of them, but Anita has put them out there in a more calm and
> collegial form than I would have. I shall add only a bit of elaboration.
> > If I steal your watch you no longer have that watch. But - if I
> > make a copy of that that watch you still have your watch and I only
> > have a copy, not your watch. Then there are two watches.
> Anyone who has ever been the victim of actual theft knows how hurtful
> it is. I've had people break into my car and my garage space and steal
> my stuff. Even if the stuff is of limited value, you feel violated,
> unsafe. And if that watch, say, was a cheap Timex that was a hand-me-
> down from your late beloved grandpa, your emotions have been cruelly
> violated.
> On the other hand, if an individual bootlegs your film, you not only
> still have your film, you still have the integrity of your life. The
> vast majority of piracy is done by private individuals, and circulated
> if at all in private forums, and the author will never even know of
> the existence of the illegal copies.*
> As such, to equate piracy with theft is morally dishonest, and an
> insult to the victims of actual theft. Piracy may be wrong, but it is
> a fundamentally different act than (literal) stealing,
> * [To be clear, in contrast, the majority of pirated _copies_ of
> things in circulation are produced by clearly criminal, large scale
> enterprises, mostly in Asia, for the purpose of resale for profit. But
> they're after Sandra Bullock, not Stan Brakhage).]
> > Piracy, Intellectual Property and Copyright are terms that were
> > devised to suit the existing business models for the music and film
> > industry, and ratified with the help of the various worldwide legal
> > systems that enshrine the right to profit (not on behalf of the
> > creator but on behalf of the business).
> Well, that's certainly true of the discourse of 'Intellectual
> Property,' but for the term 'copyright' as the quote from Jefferson
> posted earlier in this thread indicated, not so much, as it was
> formulated specifically NOT to imply ownership, but that time-limited
> monopoly intended to provide an incentive for new creative production.
> The term 'piracy' is also a more contested terrain, as it was largely
> chosen and remains embraced by the pirates themselves. The referent is
> not the fact that pirates actually stole things, but that they were
> often outsiders liberating resources hoarded by an unjust aristocracy.
> There's a kind of Robin-Hood element in pirate mythos, however limited
> that was in pirate fact. Which is why the corporations generally avoid
> the term in favor of the 'copying is THEFT" formulation.
> > They do not now, nor have they ever favoured the artists who create
> > the content that is then sold and sold again to the consumer, who
> > pays not the artist but the record company, film studio, gallerist
> > or collector.
> Absolutely. This is not a matter of interpretation but of empirical
> fact that can be traced through legal records. Copyright law was long
> ago hijacked by monied interests and has acted as a bludgeon against
> independent artists, and utterly failed to protect them. You can look
> it up!
> > Intellectual property is an oxymoron. I do not own ideas. Not even
> > my own.
> Bingo again! When Mark Toscano asks:
> > When someone is the sole author of a film, why don't they have
> > control over whether they want to change or destroy it?
> the answer is, "because no one is actually the sole author of any
> text." The original theory of copyright posits that all ideas are
> owned by the public in part because the generation of creation work
> was recognized as an interactive process. Each 'new' idea incorporates
> or builds on a history of ideas, without which the 'new' idea could
> not have been possible. And creative work is only a physical object
> until it is read, interpreted and invested with meaning or affect by
> some viewer. It's not art until it is received as art. With
> experimental film especially, that reception will encompass a lot of
> different interpretations. In the language of semiotics, experimental
> films are very 'open' texts. They prod creative responses from
> viewers, rather than merely activating pre-digested interpretive
> frames, which is an essential part of their aesthetic value.
> Even an filmmaker as idiosyncratic, innovative, and invested in the
> Romantic mythos of the artiste as Stan Brakhage acknowledged his debt
> not just to other filmmakers, but to poets. From what I've read
> (Marilyn can correct me if I've gotten this wrong) he understood his
> work not as belonging just to himself, but to an artistic tradition.
> He valued the artist indeed, but he valued the art even more, yes?
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-ekrem serdar
austin, tx

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