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Brad Sucks’ surprises

Brad Sucks came to Harvard this week and gave a performance-conversation and addressed the class I’m co-teaching with John Palfrey (blogged here and here). There were a few surprises.

What was not surprising was that Brad’s totally delightful, frank, and just a good guy.

First, he pronounces his last name (Turcotte) as Tur-COTT, not Tur-COAT. I stand corrected. Also, he likes his name written as “Brad Sucks,” not “BradSucks.” Sorry twice, Brad!

Second, especially during the class, I was struck by how different copyright looks to Brad than it looks to, well, lots of others. It’s not just that copyright protection looks to Brad like a limitation on how widely his music spreads and his musical career builds. Rather, it was how foreign copyright looks to him. From what he said, it seems like an imposition of an artificial construct place on top of the work.

Here’s what I think is happening, although I can’t say that this is what Brad is thinking. To people who think of music as a work, copyright looks like the natural boundary of their work, the ethical edge of their work itself. Others (Brad, maybe?) think of music not so much as a work as a shared experience, as a connection with listeners. For them, listening is co-creation. The work feels more like a performance to them. The concept of copyright doesn’t fit easily over such a view.

Third, Brad surprised both the class and the attendees at the performance-conversation with his claim that he is a “horrible capitalist” who gives his songs away for intensely practical reasons, not because he’s an anti-copyright activist.

Thanks for coming, Brad. And thanks for being so BradSucksy. [Tags: ]

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