Friday, May 30, 2014

So Sue Me

"Humans are the killers of magic"
~Patrick Carman, The Land of Elyon: Into the Mist

Mage Music 84 
Mage Music 84 The Scales of Justice

Oh please - let's not go into the legal arguments associated with the lawsuit. You know -- the one that the estate of Spirit guitarist Randy California has brought against Led Zeppelin 40 some years after the “crime”. Let the people with expertise in things like copyright law, finances and such have their fun beating each other up over an issue they can’t resolve in any meaningful way. All that will happen is that the attorneys will make a lot of money and some ruffled feathers may be soothed (probably also with money) until the next time the issue comes up. And there will be a next time as long as it is business as usual – which is to say this lawsuit is about business and money and not the music at all.

Don't show me the money

This may come as a shock to some folks, but life is not money-based. It's not even work-based. Money is merely a marker, a symbol of value that humans agree on.  The marker is used to make the exchange of things of value easier, including the expenditure of energy in the form of labor. In and of itself, money has strictly limited value. You disagree? When you're hungry, try eating money.

When they say money can't buy happiness, that's a hint. What we're ultimately after is not about money or even about what money is able to buy - not cars or food or fame or fortune.  What it's all about is happiness. All the money and all the stuff in the world is useless unless it satisfies desire.  Satisfying the desire is what makes us happy. And that means that money and what it can buy sometimes has no value at all.

Money can't buy Magick, either - so don't bother showing me your money.  Show me your Magick.

What's law got to do with it?

If a person can't bring about changes in his own reality that make him happy, then that's a  person not doing Magick. (Satisfied desire -> manifestation of change in the world = happiness). So here's another hint: A person who is using the law to force change is not only unhappy but most likely not able to bring Magick into what he does.*

Why does that matter?

We humans, like most living beings, feel more comfortable with predictable patterns all around us. Human laws are the patterns that attempt to control life so that it feels safe. Limitations mean fewer surprises that could bring about pain and suffering. That allows everyone to keep on keeping on without having to look over shoulders constantly for the lions and tigers and bears of the unknown and unpatterned. Everything black and white, cut and dried and safe.  So safe.

Except that safe doesn't satisfy the human soul. That’s why we humans have art, and art isn't very good at following laws. Art pushes the boundaries of the rules that make us feel safe and spills out all over the place in unpredictable ways. The best art is edgy and smacks of risk and danger because these works of creativity connect us with the energy of All That Is.

You can try squashing art with laws, but life is growth and growth is a creative act. The human need for music and painting and drama and all the arts - tools for expression of the full span of emotions and the depth and mystery of the unknown - just can’t be confined by law.  Art is the messy, unruly, ungovernable leading edge of life itself.  Law is exclusive, art is inclusive.  Law is about apples or oranges, art is about apples and oranges, about anything and everything.  The best art is Magick and is an act of manifesting desire. The law can try to regulate a work of art with about as much success as it can regulate the natural desire to create in the first place, that is, not very well.

And the law shouldn't try. When it does, though, we know why. It's just business.

Not all that glitters is gold

Copying isn't an act of creation. Passing a work of art off as being one's own could and maybe should be subject to the scrutiny of the law because there is money involved. Business is business, after all.  

But don't let that confuse you.  It's quite simple to differentiate between "copied from" and "inspired by". If there's Magick to the music, then an act of creation was involved and the music has moved outside the scope of human law.  In the case of Spirit v Led Zeppelin, if you listen very hard the truth will come to you. From there you just follow the Magick.

And aren't the lyrics to Stairway to Heaven the ultimate in irony?
There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold
And she's buying a stairway to heaven.
When she gets there she knows, if the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for.
Ooh, ooh, and she's buying a stairway to heaven.
And it's whispered that soon, if we all call the tune,
Then the piper will lead us to reason.
And a new day will dawn for those who stand long,
And the forests will echo with laughter.

 *Reminder:  I use the masculine pronoun but that never excludes women from things Magickal or anything else.  It's just a quirk of the English language.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Postscript 06/10/14 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

More thoughts on the lawsuit:

One of the big problems with mixing business and the arts (and music is obviously one of the arts) is that throughout human history making copies of a work has been not only accepted, but encouraged. It's only been in the last hundred years or so (as opposed to thousands of years of humans creating works of art) that this has been a problem.

Today's copyright laws have failed to even acknowledge that there are two completely different, and apparently opposing, approaches to art: the creative act that generates the work of art on the one hand, and the making money off of the work through copies (including musical recordings) on the other. The law can say what it wants but artists still work from the same inner space, which is influenced by and yes, even takes from other artists' work. It wasn't all that long ago that incorporating direct inspiration in a work of art was an act of tribute, not theft. It isn't even illegal to create exact copies of works of art, you know.  If it is sold it simply has to be sold as a copy, these days as a licensed copy (otherwise you couldn't buy Led Zeppelin music, posters or photos, could you?)

History has clearly shown that laws cannot suppress human nature very successfully. Regulations can't get rid of the human need to create art. This creative drive is part of human nature - a basic need like the need to socialize and communicate.  It is not an optional artifice of modern civilization. As long as copyright law ignores this point, there will be needless legal problems, particularly when there are opportunistic bloodsucker attorneys out there who want to take advantage of the situation.

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