Appropriation and copyright


Copying-it-right: Archiving the Media Art of Phil Morton – jonCates (2008)

This it typical: Sony does not allow this video on Youtube to be shown on my blog. Phil Morton would not be happy….

So here is another embedding from they call it “embed” but it is a simple link)

In 2007 I [jonCates] initiated the Phil Morton Memorial Research Archive in the Film, Video & New Media department @ The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. This Archive contains Phil Morton‘s “personal video databank” which stretches across 30 years of Media Art Histories that are specific to the early Video Art and proto-New Media Art communities in Chicago. These communities were organized around shared ethical commitments and theorypractices, one of those being Phil Morton‘s COPY-IT-Right ethic.

(…)  Morton vehemently advocated for Free Culture and Open Source approaches to Media Art before such terms were in use. He experimented relentlessly with boundaries, ignoring as many distinctions between personal, professional, political, aesthetic and technological categories as possible. He immediately moved to include analog and digital computing into his artistic work and academic curriculum with very few antecedents to rely on or refer to. In doing so he purposefully and playfully explored what we would now refer to as New Media Art, an art that was radically open, remixed, collaborative and conversational.

I will quickly sketch out a bit of biography of Phil Morton and the collaborative Media Art communities he worked within. As I do this I will be foregrounding examples of his COPY-IT-RIGHT ethic, an anti-copyright licensing system proposed by Morton and used in his individual and collaborative Media Artworks. I will contextualize COPY-IT-RIGHT in relation to current forms of resistance to intellectual property regimes. The continuum of alternatives to copyright will then provide a set of open questions that we can continue to discuss…

In 1973, Morton and Dan Sandin created plans for coping Sandin’s Image Processor, a patch-programmable analog computer optimized for video processing and synthesis. Morton and Sandin called this document The Distribution Religion. Sandin open sourced his Image Processor, releasing the Distribution Religion freely and incorporating any new modifications into the document. The Distribution Religion was also released under Morton’s COPY-IT-RIGHT ethic and as such presents an important predecessor to current Free and Open Source approaches to Media Art.



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