Scott Ellington's Blog

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Thou Shalt Not Steal

Thou Shalt Not Steal.

David Milch sometimes refers to the source of creative inspiration as God.

I think that kind of talk is presently just a little bit inflamatory, so I just call it Culture. 

But I call it by that euphemism simply to shift the focus of authorship away from authors, authorities and the armies of people who are motivated by money and who aren’t creatively inspired while they’re busy dickering, suing, enjoining, litigating, negotiating and accounting for every last brass farthing they feel is due somebody and them. 

Lawyers, agents and accountants aren’t creating content while they’re busy dickering, but then neither are authors.  And that’s the point at which my perception of authorship diverges from the normal.  Maybe love is all you need and amateurs (amatory participants in the process of making art) drive the evolution/efflorescence of art while professionals impede those good things by professing a stake in the ownership of art’s artifacts.

The care and feeding of Culture, I think, requires the sacrifice of professional authorship to facilitate innovative collaboration (authorized and otherwise) as people who create art and people who appreciate it reach for more humane and productive means (than copyright protections) to compensate one another for engaging with and making culture Culture.

Mimi and Eunice cartoon courtesy of Nina Paley:


16 Aug 10 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Not that there aren’t many things wrong with copyright law, but, on the whole, isn’t it a good thing artists can get paid for their work? While the ideas may be universal, someone still has to go to the effort of writing/directing/sculpting it, which requires a certain talent or facility with the medium, which takes effort and time to acquire, which should by some standard be recognized and rewarded. Not in the pursuit of filthy lucre, but so the artists can continue. Thoughts?

    Comment by Sam W | 16 Aug 10 | Reply

    • Damn! Those fucking people REALLY left the house in a mess!

      Comment by Scott Ellington | 16 Aug 10 | Reply

      • Grow-op mold is IMPOSSIBLE to get rid of.

        Comment by Sam W | 16 Aug 10

  2. The special features disc (#5) in the Max Headroom DVD set manages a pretty fair job of answering your question for me. Twenty-three years after the end of the series, the principal artists who made it are still exploding with the intelligence and infectious enthusiasm that they invested in a cutting-edge production that spat on money and Big Money and Power.
    I found the same kind of rabid enthusiasm radiating from the commentary tracks on The Incredibles. Actually watching the products these folks produced is only a secondary benefit that kind of validates the rush of hearing them talk about working together and making their art.
    Should giant corporations own what artists create? Should censors, executives, accountants and lawyers meddle with it and employ artists for pay? — That’s the way it works, whether or not that’s the best way to facilitate the creation and appreciation of dynamic works of art.
    I think it’s about people.
    Writers generate structure and dialogue that actors interpret (UGC). Money facilitates the collaboration of people who make stuff. For artists and audiences that stuff (when it matters) isn’t about money, it’s about Culture and people and meaningful content — but for Money, it’s all about money.
    The right to get money from audiences for exclusive access to Culture is jealously guarded by people with money and power.
    But how can Culture be nurtured more effectively than we’re doing it now? And how do we get on with making that happen?
    I think the first step is making certain that artists get paid directly by audiences who appreciate what they do without paying middlemen who dole out portions of our gratitude to the makers of Culture. But I’m really just thinking aloud. Wouldn’t you?

    Comment by Scott Ellington | 16 Aug 10 | Reply

    • Well, they say the audience of the future isn’t millions of people who like your work, it’s ten or a hundred thousand that love your work and will pay for it. Radiohead kind of proved that by releasing their last album online. And there are filmmakers whose work is so anti-commercial yet so inspiring that as a culture we should support it. I mean, a Kenneth Branagh MacBeth isn’t going to put asses in seats, but that doesn’t mean it’s culturally irrelevant.

      Comment by Sam W | 16 Aug 10 | Reply

      • Now that you mention it, I suspect the primary function of Money is to find, exploit, inflame and preserve the neurotic impulse in art. Maybe that makes it the root of all evil, and maybe it’s just a brake on the natural impulse to create.
        The time to explore alternative methods of supporting creative endeavor has arrived, and direct interaction between primary participants in creative enterprise means The House is on the sidelines. The House doesn’t always have to win.

        Comment by Scott Ellington | 17 Aug 10

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