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

From: David Tetzlaff (email suppressed)
Date: Sun Oct 17 2010 - 06:10:03 PDT

I just want to note that I mean nothing I have said to discount the
specific critiques of Ubuweb Jonathan discusses. To the extent that
they have shamed anyone, positioned themselves as "the solution" etc.,
they'll get no defense from me.

Nor do I intend to advance a brief for crappy lo-fi copies, other than
to observe that most of the time (but not always) something is better
than nothing.

Nor do I dispute that the discovery of a widely distributed,
unauthorized, poor-quality copy of ones work can engender a legitimate
sense of violation. I do however hold to my argument that this cannot
justly be equated to the violation involved in the theft of personal
objects. (Steve: I do not discount the validity or significance of
these feelings of violation, only the validity of equating them with
more serious violations.) Piracy may not be theft, but that doesn't
mean it's totally OK.

Jonathan wrote:
> Which is what troubles me to see people so ready to accept the
> anecdotal evidence that UBU has elevated experimental film's
> cultural profile (and rental fees). If anything, I'd say UBU is at
> least as much a beneficiary of this elevation - which has primarily
> been accomplished "from the inside" of experimental film - as a cause.

Well, as there are no formal studies I know of, anecdotal evidence is
all we have. And a claim that 'elevated cultural profile' results in
increased rental fees strikes me as especially dubious. The argument
of my earlier posts was that the economic value of experimental
filmmaking cannot be realized through the commodity forms of sale or
rentals of the films themselves.

> If attendance at Anthology is up, if rental fees at Canyon are at
> stable, if more people are indeed getting exposure to experimental
> film/video, I'd put UBU pretty low on the list of people to credit.

(I mean this sincerely:) Who/what do you credit and what evidence
(anecdotal or otherwise) leads you to this conclusion?

> Those who have voiced skepticism, even outright hostility, toward
> UBU can't simply be dismissed as dupes of a corporate ideology of
> intellectual property and copyright,

Of course not. But what has pushed my buttons in this discussion is
not the critique of Ubu, but the discourses raised in that critique.
And, I'm sorry, but anyone who suggests 'copying is stealing' or uses
the phrase 'intellectual property' without brackets IS a dupe of
corporate ideology.

I wonder if anyone at UbuWeb is listening in to this discussion. I'd
certainly agree that UbuWeb could be improved -- though I'd guess
that, like many film fests and screening series, it's mainly a labor
of love with limited resources and the creators are doing their best,
aware of the flaws, and just very limited in being able to deal with
them. Nevertheless, we might light the proverbial candle instead of
cursing the cliched darkness, and try to generate some ideas about
online versions of experimental work (not just Ubu, there's a lot of
classic material on Google video as well) could be improved to better
serve the artform, the community, and the artists whose continuing
practice keeps the form alive.
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