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And BOOM! goes the dynamite: Writer/editor Mark Waid has posted his keynote address from last weekend’s Harvey Awards on the CBR mothership. Arguably the most talked-about such speech since Frank Miller ripped up an issue of Wizard, Waid’s address tackled the thorny issues of copyright law, public domain, and digital piracy.
To hear Waid tell it in his intro to the CBR post, a combination of nervousness and not hitting certain points hard and often enough led some in the audience — including Sergio Aragonés, who confronted Waid about it — to believe Waid was attacking the very notion of creator ownership of art and defending illegal downloads. In reality, the speech was not nearly as radical, and a great deal more interesting. The most thought-provoking part of it, to my eyes, is the passage in which Waid argues that Internet culture, with the premium it places on distributing content people enjoy to as many other people as possible, has actually reinvigorated the notion that art has inherent value, in cultural terms if not financial ones:
And I’ll tell you why. It’s not because people “like stealing.” It’s because the greatest societal change in the last five years is that we are entering an era of sharing. Twitter and YouTube and Facebook–they’re all about sharing. Sharing links, sharing photographs, sending some video of some cat doing something stupid–that’s the era we’re entering. And whether or not you’re sharing things that technically aren’t yours to share, whether or not you’re angry because you see this as a “generation of entitlement,” that’s not the issue–the issue is, it’s happening, and the internet’s ability to reward sharing has reignited this concept that the public domain has cultural value.
Waid and his audience didn’t have the luxury you currently have, of being able to go through the speech at your leisure when you’re not reaching the end of a long convention day with a few vodkas under your belt. Take advantage, read the whole thing, and let us know what you think.