Monday, September 13, 2010

Music and Cyberliberties

Patrick Burkart
Music and Cyberliberties

Wesleyan University Press, 2010

This book is a 140-page study on how liberties of U.S. citizens in the web have been changing and how music has become the flagship of the movement for information freedom.

This activist’s guide is released by the university press and written by a young professor of the University of Texas, hence the frequent references to works of philosophers. Leaving aside not the easiest for the unprepared reader language and philosophers with social scientists, the book may well be informative and sometimes even fascinating reading for anyone who loves the first half of the book's title, but doubted that he is interested in the second half.

The author in the five chapters describes who is fighting against whom the struggle for free distribution of music, unlimited access to knowledge, the right to have for you to not be watched. Burkart examines in detail what societies, associations, organizations stand for liberties in the digital space, but concludes that there is not single movement still at all, all groups are scattered and irregular. Burkart tracks changes, which are performed by the Big Four (the major record companies of America, producing about 90% of all records), to protect their music from free distribution, but almost all the methods are either limiting the freedom of man, or so absurd as to cause laughter (thus, in the late 90's students were not even allowed to sing popular songs at the campfire). Bureaucracy has become one of the main characters of this book: it is so penetrated all corners of people's lives that prevent developing society as it would become a natural way.
Burkart absolutely is a true eye for what the music was always the first of the arts which brings changes. There are not among readers and moviegoers so many fighters for freedom in the digital space, as there are among music fans and musicians as well.

In "Music and Cyberliberties" there are some flaws. The author mentions that music itself in his work was not touched, noting that it might be completely different genres. Burkart repeatedly mentions that today's movement for cyberliberties originates from DIY-movement, but at the same time, throughout the book, he writes about the struggle with the musical giants of the business. Still, the policy of indie labels is very different from the policy of the Big Four, and in the book they are almost the same. And it is worth noting, the book still managed to somewhat outdated. It is clear that the process of publishing the book is not imminent, but since 2008 the number of changes have already occurred, which, if not radically alter the look and approach, but specify many particulars. Internet is still a very dynamic space.

However, these flaws almost do not spoil the book. Still, freedom is the freedom, whenever and wherever it is. And the author managed to capture the spirit of freedom.

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