Kind of Grey.
I’m still figuring out where I stand on the Jay Maisel vs. Andy Baio incident that Andy broke the news about yesterday. As expected, forums for sites commenting editorially on the issue exploded with people taking extreme positions for or against either party, and a mob mentality led to the disappearance of Mr. Maisel’s Facebook page.
As a fan of and participant in remix culture I appreciate both sides of the debate. I released my own album of audio collage in homage and celebration of an often-overlooked genre and period of music. I do not claim creative proprietorship of the sampled material. But I strongly believe in the fair use of transforming and juxtaposing it in the spirit of exploring new contexts and facets of appreciation.
My knee-jerk reaction is to take Andy’s side for his experimental intent. However one thing sticks in my craw. Andy took pains in securing rights for his album’s reinterpreted music. Yet he admits neglecting to do the same for the cover art, and is paying a frighteningly heavy price. As a designer and musician who frequently has to justify the worth of my work, I’m very sensitive to how much artists and their contributions are taken for granted. It’s one thing for someone to transform (or “steal” as many would call it) an artist’s work and think it’s fair use or just hope they don’t get caught. It’s another thing to completely overlook the fact that a cover image is as much an artistic work as the music it packages. I’m a little surprised to see that concept slip by someone involved in so many professional and personal creative projects.
As much as I sympathize with Andy and his family’s huge financial and emotional loss, not to mention the blow to creative culture in general, I don’t blame Mr. Maisel for defending his work. Looking forward to hearing his side of the story when the villagers finally lower their torches.