Sunday, June 10, 2007

Like a free ride when you've already paid?

I've written before about the empirical weakness of the argument that copyright owners won't authorize parodies, but just realized I'd been overlooking a significant example -- Janis Ian. Ian released an excellent album, Revenge, and then recorded Janis Ian Shares Your Pain, an album of parodies/satires of the same songs. Both are available on iTunes. My personal favorite is "Stolen Tires," based on "Stolen Fire," but "Take Me Walking in Bahrain," based on "Take Me Walking in the Rain," is a wonderful take on the star-crossed lovers genre. Is it ironic that Ian, a great proponent of making some songs available for free on the internet to drive ticket and CD sales, is also trying to capture the market for parodies of herself?

I'll say it again: copyright owners aren't entitled to the market for parodies (and satires!) for normative reasons. If we accept purely empirical market definitions, copyright owners will just create licensing markets for everything.

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