On appropriation: the art of the long tail
When worlds collide
From Publishing 2.0
The widely-used and much reviled term “user-generated content” implies that somebody is making something. But the dirty little secret of “user-generated” sites like YouTube and MySpace is that much of the content is not made by the users themselves — it’s appropriated from someone else.
At the end of the day, whenever anybody uploads or posts something to the web, it’s just a form of publishing. What’s radical about the new digital reality is that I can publish anything that I made — and I can publish anything that anybody else made.
Basic common sense tells you that if I were to take all of the content from another blog, publish it here, and then run ads against it, that would be wrong. Much of the tangled web we now face results from the euphemistic obfuscation of terms like “user-generated content.” If we call it what it is — for example, people streaming music from their MySpace pages while MySpace runs ads on those pages — then we can have a clear debate about the right and wrong of it.
In a great tradiion, MySpace and You Tube is the home of appropriation art. In that sense we have contemporary and modern traditions that as Wiikipedia says of Duchamp: "Duchamp's "creativity" as an artist lies in the gesture of selecting the urinal as an art piece and displaying it in an artistic context." So MySpace and You Tube "artists", if they can prove the transformative nature the "long tail" on the appropriated work on their page they can sit at ease. .