Autonomous Archives: 02 UbuWeb
Cinematographer: Nisha Vasudevan
Duration: 00:40:07; Aspect Ratio: 1.778:1; Hue: 20.452; Saturation: 0.104; Lightness: 0.262; Volume: 0.259; Cuts per Minute: 0.100; Words per Minute: 152.657
Properties of the Autonomous Archive
, a 2-day event, hosted by CAMP, was a gathering of key internet platforms, archival initiatives and related infrastructures.
The discussion was intended to focus on the qualities and powers of contemporary archives: including their stable or emergent properties, their performance and beauty, survival and capacity, and autonomy.
"In declaring their autonomy, archives seek to produce norms beyond normativity, and ethical claims beyond the law."
- excerpt from Pad.ma, Ten Theses on the Archive
, no. 9.
Day one was a day of presentations and discussions: "Show me your Properties!"
: Jan Gerber and Sebastian Lutgert - 'people annotate describe make add'
: Kenneth Goldsmith - 'If we had to ask permission, we wouldn't exist: a brief history of UbuWeb and the law'
04 SFG (Shared Footage Group)
: 'Its past and future'
05 Sundar and Gurung
: 'Archiving in the vernacular, experiences from Tamil and Nepali'
06 Rochelle Pinto
: 'The mundane state - historians in a state archive'
07 Peter S. - flattr
: 'Flattr, the need for alternative financial views'
08 Matthew Fuller
: 'Two evil media stratagems: Structured data & Know your sorts'
09 Liang and Lutgert - Leaks
: 'Privacy and Scandal: Radia tapes and Wikileaks'
Kenneth Goldsmith, founding editor of UbuWeb
, teaches Poetics and Poetic Practice at the University of Pennsylvania and is Senior Editor of PENNsound
KG: It is such an honour to be here. There are so many people here who have really proven to be so inspirational to me in so many ways. I'll tell each of you when I get a chance to talk to you, how over the years, when things have been really... difficult, I've looked to many of you and what you do, as a way of saying, "You know, it's Okay. It's going to be okay."
Max Mueller Bhavan, Mumbai
KG: Pad.ma is amazing! The technology is just mind-boggling on this. Sebastian showed me the new interface...I've seen the interface on your site. I think you can't get into it publicly, is that right?
SL: Ya... ..., because we're having similar types of challenges.
KG: Yeah... but that's actually the... the sense of challenge is what really drives the site. It's what keeps me up at night and what wakes me up in the morning. You know... it does both things. As a matter of fact, if it ever legitimised, I would walk away. I mean, the fun is in the danger, I think.
KG: That said, the thing that I adore about Padma is this technology. What Sebastian is doing is absolutely amazing. This is so fucking primitive! This is HTML 1.0 ... I write every page of this ... there's 40,000 pages I've written ...all on BBedit. You know... bracket 'br'... bracket slash 'br' ... I still do that.
KG: I've been really super-suspicious of databases, of people, always saying 'We can put Ubu into the best database.' But I'm afraid of getting locked away. I'm afraid of somebody taking it over, throwing away the keys and saying, 'I own this thing now.'
KG: I mean, this is so primitive. I mean really, it is bad. But in that sense, I kinda' feel like it does what it's been doing since 1996. So Ubu's been around for 15 years. And it just does the same exact thing, the same exact way.
KG: And that's what I term radical distribution. To me, the best thing about the internet, is just the way it distributes things, you know. And then all the other stuff that happens, is really reductive. I know I'm wrong.
KG: But all the other things that sort of happen around that, I'm so much less interested in. In just the kind of miracle still... I'm still blown away by the miracle that I could put up something, and you can get it. It's just...to me, that's the fact of it. Now, I'm a product of my time. You said 2007, right?
KG: So that's 11 years after Ubu started. And I see, if I was starting Ubu today, how much different it would be. It would look very similar to what you guys are doing. But you know, it works. And it kinda' keeps growing.
KG: It's grown into the largest site for the 'Avant Garde' on the internet. But I don't really know what that means. And it's always expanding and it's always going in all these directions. And that kind of...you know.. 'Avant Garde' is what I say it is. You know, anyways, who really cares.
KG: And that's the other thing- It's pretty much... It looks like a big, important site, but it's not. It's a big fanzine. It's a big, stupid art students' fanzine.
KG: So if you go into the film and video section, I don't even... I have no idea how many hours there are on this. I stopped counting. I got lost. I got confused. I just stopped counting at a certain point.
KG: And a lot of these artists,... if you click on... oh, I don't know...er... oh, here's a good story. Isn't this great! This Henry Michaux film. This is on KaraGarga isn't it? ... Obviously.
KG: See we get a lot of stuff from KaraGarga, we don't rip anything. The idea is like, UbuWeb is like... like the 'Robin Hood of the Avant Garde' ....We steal from places and then we give it away to everybody.
KG: You see, to get an invitation to KaraGarga is impossible. I have one, but...'karagarga...karagarga...what is it'? - Yeah it's like an avant garde crack house for amazing...amazing films... Ubu just doesn't compare to what's on here. But it's impossible to get in.
KG: So I really hate the exclusivity of these places. I'm Ubu. They always invite me. That's great. I take from them. I try to give it to everybody else. So this is great. There's a lot of sites like this out there.
KG: So anyway, if you click on a Michaux or something like that... you get a stream, a streaming thing. But most importantly, right here, is always an AVI or an MP4. So there's always something to download. It's not a torrent. It's not on Rapid Share or anything; it's on our servers. On a server that's been given to us. That's really important.. on Ubu. It's super-important that everything be downloadable.
KG: I hate streaming. I hate the idea of the internet cloud. I think that's a complete fucking myth. I mean I go all around the world, and I can never get online, unless somebody gives me a password. So I don't believe in cloud computing at all. I believe if it doesn't exist on your hard drive; in a way, it doesn't exist.
KG: I teach, and I teach at a very privileged university in the states, and of course we have great facilities. But I realise, that's very...you know, everybody is wired up - no problem. And everybody assumes that this is there. Also everybbody assumes the internet is always going to be there...
KG: Things are always changing. For example I get take-downs on Ubu all the time. And you know what, I take it down, and the archive then changes. It's a fluid archive.
KG: If you want that Paper Rad video, you know, any of these... if you want P-Unit Mixtape... I suggest to you, if you really want it, take it right from there and download it. Hard drive space is super-cheap. Just fill up hard drives, just stuff your hard drives. And hold on to them. I think it was said in Pad.ma- 'Share, share them'.
KG: I think it's a great idea. I've got 900 backups of this... people come over and they take. It's not that big. It's only a couple of terabytes of material.
KG: So anyway, what there is, there's film and video. The other really big one is our sound section. This is gazillions of MP3's.
KG: This is really great. These are all the sound...things made by ...Jean Dubuffet. Let's see if we can listen to something for a second...
KG: These are all Mp3's, they're all downloadable, you can stream them,..
KG: The thing that I love about Ubu, is that, because Ubu has been around for so long, I get all these emails that say 'Wow! This composer Jean Dubuffet is amazing!' And only later
do they learn that he is also a painter. So the whole kind of thing gets flipped around because of accessibility. Jean Dubuffet is, of course, in every museum of the world. But nobody knows his stuff.
KG: You know, you have this kind of weird revisionism in art because of that. You have... on Ubu we have videos by Richard Serra- Richard Serra, that macho sculptor. At his Retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, there was no videos available. Nobody knows that Richard Serra is a video artist. His videos are actually very good. We've got 10 of them on Ubuweb.
KG: So the idea is to kind of say, that the detritus is ...actually the detritus and the ephemera of people, ...of what we think of art to be, is actually more interesting that what we know art to be. Like Walter Benjamin, ...or Beckett... Beckett has gazillions of... of radio plays and radio frat stuff. It just goes on and on... The idea is, it's not 'Waiting for Godot' in the theatre all the time.
KG: So that's kind of the overview of it - it's all downloadable. This is also what I want to say... there's no democracy. There's no community. I don't talk to anybody. I don't do anything I don't want to do. I don't like feedback. The reason I think Ubu is so good, is because its not a democracy, not anybody can just upload things. It's highly curated.
KG: ...as a matter of fact... I finally put... on the contact page, I use the blink tag.... an 'h2', and a blink tag that says, 'No Submissions' 'No Submissions'....But of course people still keep submitting things to me! I mean you can imagine how bad the submissions are. I never find anything from the submissions.
KG: I used to kind of want to be more community minded. But at this point, you know, I just, I sort of...really don't care. And so there's no democracy.
KG: The other thing about Ubu, is that I removed it from Google. Once Google alerts started coming, copyright holders... began, not knowing what Ubu is,... - we don't take any money by the way, it runs on no money whatsoever. 50 dollars I pay the ISP to keep the thing... to keep my name 'ubuweb.com' going, keep a hold of the storage space. It's zero money. We don't touch money.
KG: So you have copyright holders or... - it's never artists, it's always a gallery, or a crazy sister who ended up with an artist's estate that's very valuable intellectually, but monetarily completely worthless. And they think they have come into a pot of gold and they are going to try and squeeze everybody out for it.
KG: So, I'd say, if we had to ask for permission, we wouldn't exist. I don't... UbuWeb acts like copyright doesn't exist. I just say 'Oh, what's copyright. What's that?' It doesn't matter. And the reason it doesn't matter, is because what I have here has no economy whatsoever. You couldn't...if you were to take Sun Ra... Sun Ra's Berkeley lectures, and press a CD, you know, 4 people would buy it. You'd be out of your mind to do something like that.
KG: Or Sun Ra... reading his poetry- that's even ... you'd even lose more money on that.
KG: It's great, believe me, it's fantastic. But we deal with stuff that nobody really wants. I saw that you... Sebastian, you were showing this film before... fantastic film. That's from the collaboration we do with a middle-eastern art magazine called Bedoun, that's been feeding us all sort of amazing middle-eastern avant garde content.
KG: It's you know...gee... I can go on and on and on. There's a million stories. I've never been sued, for 15 years. I believe in dialoguing with people that are trying to sue me. And the minute that they see what it is we're trying to do, they usually back off and they go 'Okay, we get it now. That's fine.' They come at me so hot, they're so angry... and then we say 'no really, this is helping you.' At this point its better to be on Ubu than it is to not be on Ubu. So as a result, now a lot of artists now, are coming to us, saying 'Now we want to be on Ubu.' Some of it's good, some of it's not.
KG: Well, I don't know, I'm not so sure what else to say. I could say a lot, there've been a lot of war stories over the last 15 years. But maybe there's a question or so.... I... I ... Does anybody have a question? ... - Yeah, Susan?
Susan: You said you never had artists come after you. And I'm just wondering whether you ask the artist when you're uploading their work or not?
KG: No, never. We don't ask. I never ask.
Susan: Do you tell them you're doing it?
KG: No, no.
Susan: Don't any of these people get mad at you?
KG: No, nobody gets mad. They like it. They're all happy. Because I don't take money.
KG: See, if you were to give me - if you were to come to me and say - 'I wanna give Ubu a million dollars' - I'd say 'Forget it.' There's an ecosystem - there's a really fragile ecosystem here. Once you take money then everybody should get money. I don't touch money, nobody gets money.
KG: And it doesn't matter. EAI- places that are very large video distributors- have now have to come to terms with Ubu. We're actually really good friends. They need us. They can't do what we do.
KG: MoMA can't do what we do. If you go to MoMA's website, it's an online brochure. They tell you the exhibitions, they tell you the opening hours, where the cafeteria is,... this kind of thing.
KG: What MoMA has in their archive far outweighs what Ubu has, obviously. But their website is nothing. Ubu has so much more. Ubu is much bigger than MoMA.
KG: And the reason, of course, for this is, if they wanted to do what we did, they'd have to ask permission. They'd have to, then if you ask permission, then you have to get a lawyer, and then you have to make a contract, and then you have to pay royalties, and then you have to clear rights. And if there's music in the film, by the Rolling Stones, you gotta go to Rolling Stones and clear the rights,...na na na...
KG: And to build an archive like Ubu legitimately would cost millions and millions of dollars. Now I've done it for no- abs- nothing... zero money, all these years.
Q: I'm sorry,... about you saying you took off the Google search part, because I have found things on Ubu based on Google searches....
KG: Oh...yeah...yeah...that's before...now it's gone. Yeah. Now it's gone. See, we've gone underground
, right. Now we're underground.... but we're on all the bad search engines still. Like... Altavista, you can find us, AskJeeves... Bing... you know, all the ones that nobody uses you can find us on.
KG: But, you know... people write books on how to get your ranking up on Google, you know, 'Make your business better'...I want less business. I want less.. I want to go more underground. Because then I can do more stuff. Now somehow everybody wants to go to the centre where all the light is. This stuff exists in a grey area. It's been a really cool economic discovery to find that there's thousands and thousands of artifacts that have no economic value, but have great intellectual value. And everybody is cool with sharing those.
KG: ...I'm sure I'll get sued one day and the whole thing will be over and I'll walk away from it. IT's just a kind of strange obsessive hobby... you know.
Q: Do you write all the texts?
KG: Yeah...no I steal them from the web. I don't write anything, it's terrible. If you go- this is a terrible site - If you go to ...I don't know... Storm De Hirsch, Peyote Queen - A really cool psychedelic thing from 1965,... I didn't write any of that. I just grabbed it from the web. It's awful.
KG: And the film makers really hate this site. They hate me and when Ubu got hacked a little while ago, the Frameworks list, which is the biggest avant garde list, were celebrating. They were dancing. They were so happy. Now the world can be returned to normal because Ubu got hacked. And we were down for 2 months.
KG: You know it's hard for film makers. Musicians... music sounds good on the web. Books can kind of be read on the web. But when you're moving from ....you know... a 35mm screen to something this big, that's very hard. Particularly for a certain generation of film makers, people that came up in the 60's...mostly of the free-cultured people...when it comes to their own history, they're the least free people in the world. They've forgotten all that shit. (unclear)
KG: So I did a funny thing this summer. I was invited by Lincoln Center to present a night of films of Ubuweb. Now, at the Walter Reade theatre. This is the biggest, most important theatre in all of New York. The screen is the size of this building. And the sound system is perfect.
KG: I said that's fine, but the one thing that you have to do, is you have to show AVIs on that screen. I said I refuse, you cannot go to the distributor, you've got to just connect to the Ubu thing. The programme was an hour and a half and there were probably 12 films, or 15 films. And they were unwatchable. It was fantastic. It looked like blocks of pixels, each one this big. And it was great. I wanted to say, resolution is really important. High resolution and good distribution of high quality films, like EAI, Video Data Bank, LUX in London ... these are really important places. This doesn't preclude that.
KG: The problem with those things are, is that the rental fees is so high. My wife teaches at Yale, right. She teaches video art at Yale, they give her a budget of 200 dollars a month...I'm sorry- 200 dollars a semester
, to rent videos. She can rent about 2 minutes of a Godard film for that.
KG: So what happens is, education suffers. And Ubu is mostly used by education.
KG: The other way that Ubu is misused which I really love, is it's repository of strange sounds for dance music. That's completely decontextualised. People go on and they find sound poetry by Kurt Schwitters or something...and beyond, and they take it and go 'Oh these are the coolest sounds we've ever heard.' But of course they have no historical context for that and they mix it into their own dance mixes. Which I think mostly, Ubu is used for. This kind of half art history, half art schools.
KG: When Ubu was down for 2 months because the, ...I think half the art schools shuttered their lights. So, people, they get... I believe in good distribution. I believe in places like LUX and EAI, I think they're really really important. If Ubuweb wants to be bad, the quality should be bad. So you can go and find the good things. It's the thumbnail. Really. But the problem for most people is... that they don't live in a ... I dont know...are they showing Godard films in Mumbai? Is there a cinema that you can go to every night and see avant garde films here?
KG: So the problem is- in New York there are actually theatres like that. ...Very privileged to live in a city where you can actually go to the anthology archives and see a Stan Brackish film. ...'Oh, Stan Brackish is playing again.' ...so much, that you don't even want to go anymore....
KG: What's happened is that Ubu has become 'that' for a lot of people. A lot of film clubs would take AVIs and show... in small towns in Brazil, a little film club of people that are interested in this, would actually spend a night showing stuff that's on Ubu.
Q(RB): How do you try to widen your distribution networks outside Europe and America? For eg. take the concept of the Avant Garde- the Avant Garde for example in Asia- it's there.
Q(RB): It's been there for a long time... But perhaps it hasn't been formulated in the same way that the European Avant Garde has.
KG: So what in...in terms of your very disciplined, creative, educational kinds of priorities; what kind of research would you do to....
KG: I wouldn't do any research. I'd wait for you to come to me and say, 'I've got this great slew of Asian Avant Garde films that you have to have up on Ubu. Let's do it.' - I'd say - 'Great! Why not!'
KG: I don't know anything about that. I don't know anything about what I'm putting up there. I kind of get the sense that it's important. I don't know much about this - Ubu's bad. And what Ubu wants to do is say 'Do it better!' This sucks. This has been fifteen years. And the reason nobody has done this is because everybody is afraid of copyright.
KG: Okay? I work at a university and we have legitimate things - they all have to be signed off like this - every contract - We don't have any contracts. There's no paper work.
KG: So why aren't there ten Ubuwebs? There should be nine hundred Ubuwebs, but they aren't. Because everybody - atleast in the States, and I know, in Europe - is so scared of this weird thing called 'Copyright'- which exists around Madonna - legitimate copies.
KG: What they don't get is that even around Beckett - nobody cares. I've got shitloads of Beckett material- I could start to show you. I got film...- I got all sorts of things. Nobody... I don't know... Beckett doesn't seem to care.
KG: We work with Bidoun magazine, from the Middle East. So now we've got Middle Eastern avant garde content. This is fantastic. Anybody can come to me and say, 'Lets do something like that.' I would love it.
Q(SL): As an organizational principle, I think Ubu is totally plausible... what you seem to do is to occupy a map of exactly that grey space in that field of film... in that field of.. not necessarily commercial, or widely-distributed, film. And also ... your account of meeting these other players in the field and actually occupying a place in the field, that is also recognised by other players. Because you do exactly one thing - which is distribution of low-res materials, and such materials that do not have other (kinds of) distribution lists.
Q(SL): What I'm wondering - what's your idea of interfacing with different organisations that have different types of.... that are of different form- different for-profit organisations... - What's your idea of these kinds of ...
Q(SL): I was wondering, for example when you say you do things with Lincoln Centre, of course you do the obvious thing- protecting the- For example if you do things with Biduoun, if you appear in different context... So you're then the archivist who travels with this material you authored in a kind of way, of your selection - What kind of new questions arise from these kinds of ...increasing open - or increasing attention that it gets outside its initial original context?
KG: I'm completely unambitious. Susan asked the question... 'where are you in ten years?' ...I could care less in a way. I don't care. There's no PR on it, I never send an email, there's no mailing list - nothing. I just don't give a shit, in a way. I just kind of keep going with it. Nice things happen.
KG: And nice things happen like we did a thing that's very official, at the Centre for Canadian Architecture in Montreal, they made this amazing show of archives from the Smithsonian Institution, NASA, the Canadian Film Board, and Ubuweb.
- I mean which one doesn't belong here?
KG: So I said the same thing... Let's use the material from Ubuweb, but you've got to show AVI's and not ask permission. Just like that. And they said, 'We can't do that. We have to do it the right way.' So I gave them an inital list of things and they went out - you know what it's like clearing permissions? And I do it, I write books with contracts for publishers. Clearing permissions, man - it's a nightmare.
KG: So for six months they try to clear permissions, but they can't find the copyright owner... The list that I gave them was this long. And after about two or three months they come back and the list is like three people that they could find and they could pay- which I really like. They went to EAI, they went to various places, they paid them, they paid them well. Because this stuff is found on Ubuweb.
KG: Then I gave them some more names, but it's a big pain the ass, really. And that was a nice thing about collaborating with an offical institution. For-profit institution. I don't know, they're non-for-profit, but not-for-profit in the States is often for- you know- very much much for-profit.
KG: So, I don't know.... I'm just not that ambitious. All I wanna do is drink whiskey, which I do. I put my kids to bed and I get a big glass of whiskey and I sit down and I update this thing at night. I just want to keep doing that in a way.
KG: ALright..... is our time up?
Q(JG): I only have one technical question. You said you only use $15 for your domain name, but the videos are actually hosted on some...
KG: Oh yeah... that's a good question.
KG: Everything, all the stuff is hosted on a server at York University in Toronto. They're doing a study on radical distribution of media. And they said 'We'll take Ubu.' It's a hot archive, man. They could get sued a million times for this archive. They said 'don't worry, we'll take the risk. As long as we use you as an object for study. So everytime somebody sends you a note to take something down, you have to forward us that note and tell us what you did. Become accountable for that. And otherwise, we'll just leave you alone to do what you do.'
KG: It sucks bandwidth at 5 gb/sec. I couldn't pay for a minute of that. 5 gigabytes a second. It's about 3 or 4 terabytes worth of media. Most of what's going in there though, is not people. It's mostly these robots that are going in and sniffing out AVI's and storing them somewhere on computers.
KG: I think they trace the IP addresses back to these robots that go around, and anything that have an MP4 or AVI tag, they're just hoovering. So they're getting a bunch of videos.... Big deal! What is this...some guy masturbating under a wood platform. They're going to throw that out... na... actually.... masturbating... maybe they can use that. To sell.
KG: So it's all about donated server space from universities.
Q(JG): Do you think that this collaboration with this university and their interest in having ....that this has an effect on people maybe thinking twice before contacting you legally, because it has some sort of university context?
KG: Oh, I don't know. ... It feels really official. The site doesn't really look like a fanzine. So we fool a lot of people into thinking that it's some kind of official site.
Q(SA): What happened to the 'Hall of Shame'?
KG: The Hall of Shame was really, really pissing people off. And.... you know.... I want to be a friend to the film makers. I like them. I don't want to be their enemy. They were really offended and upset by that. You know, that's okay. ...I felt like I was making enemies in ways that were kind of comically bad. It wasn't essential. My goal in the end wasn't to shame people. My goal was to continue to make friends, and to continue to grow, and to continue to dialogue with people. That's a better model I think. And everybody got a lot easier when that happened.
Q(SA): So the videos just disappear?
KG: ...I don't make a list of it publicly on the site. It's not that interesting to me. ...It is to me, but ...
Q(RB): Getting back to Beckett...you see his face...
KG: Yeah... you know the other thing I love about this is that people come to the site and see an old man. And think 'This must be a site for retirees, for pentioneers.' The worst thing you could do to drive people away is to put an image of an old guy on the page. I really love that.
Q(RB): I think, for a theatre person, it's extremely provocative, what you're doing. Because the most inaccessible of playwrights in terms of any kind of reinvention, any kind of translation, any kind of subversion is Samuel Beckett. You'd be sued. If you...
KG: Yeah, if you wanted ...if we wanted to do a production, of Beckett,right now, we'd get caught. I know they're looking and they come and they arrest us all.
Q(RB): It's interesting that there are different standards.
KG: That's what makes the money. Beckett's radio plays don't make money. People doing interpretations of his things don't make money. What makes money is Waiting for Godot. Every high school that puts on Godot... And there are different economies you have to recognise that.
Q(RB): But see, it's so complicated. It's not just the money question. Even for example, a very good director Deborah Warner wants to do 'Waiting for Godot' with women. And they stop it. It's like an artistic protocol. You can't play around with his texts. The text has to be played as he wrote it. Because Beckett wrote very specific kinds of performance texts.
KG: Like, he could drive his actress mad, he said 'Pick up the toothbrush with your left hand, not your right hand.' She said 'I always use my right hand.' He said 'No. Use your left hand.' You know, he was very exacting. But what is interesting is that you can do this. I'm not even sure the Beckett estate knows about this.
KG: This stuff has been up forever. I don't know how they haven't found me. They will find me. And you know what? There will be no more Beckett on the website....so 'bye-bye'.
RB: It's interesting.
KG: I remember... now here's a really good story... couple of years ago, we have a couple of big Avant Garde stars on my site Beckett, John Cage is another. So a couple of years ago, I got an email from the estate of John Cage. 'We know you have a lot of John Cage material up there that we haven't authorised.' And I got kind of scared. I was like 'Oh shit!' How could Ubu go on without John Cage, right?
KG: So ...it was a Friday afternoon and I went to the sound page and I started looking for the name of John Cage. Where is it... I couldn't find it. I did search.
KG: Oh. There it is. You know what, if that name wasn't there, nobody would notice. Some people would notice. But there's nine hundred thousand other names. To get this thing down would have to be a class action law suit against... of all the Avant Garde. Of everyone. Fluxus.
KG: ...The Avant Garde musicians,... and the sound poets- they all have to ban together... ... and Abbi Hoffman too would have to come down. That would be a class-action lawsuit of the Avante artists to take it down!
KG: It's kind of weird. If Beckett vanished, it wouldn't be such a big deal. And he very well might. It's risky keeping it. What's even riskier is keeping up all the stuff from James Joyce, because Stephen Joyce is a maniac. But somehow they haven't come.
KG: I have stuff here by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. I have all of Ono's films. And she's notoriously litigious with Fly, Rape - these amazing films. Maybe it's because when on Google she doesn't find us. Files of John Lennon Radio-Plays, John Lennon's diary... the most lucrative musician in the world, is on Ubu without permission, but somehow they don't seem to care, because the sound file that we have of John Lennon, is John Lennon playing with his radio- for 10 minutes, and Yoko Ono and the cat screaming in the background. Couldn't sell that. It's not Imagine. It's about as far as you can get from Imagine. But if I put Imagine up there, they'd be on me like that!
KG: You've got to understand, it's very complicated. There are all these levels of, all these different types of economies. It's like juggling a thousand balls. You have to kind of know. Only someone who is doing this for so long can understand what economies are going to get me killed, and what economies are sort of safe.
KG: Once in a while it f*&^s up... I got a take-down notice from the CBC. For years I had all these really obscure Glen Gould radio plays up there. Glen Gould is a big name. But they were up there for like 10 years. They asked me to take them down. The lawyer sends a big scary letter. And I write them back, I always apologise. 'I'm sorry, We're not funded. There's no money. It's out of print. All the stuff's out of print. There's nothing here that's in print.' They say 'No, please take it down.' They get nicer and nicer with each letter. And then at the end she was like 'Okay Ken, have a great weekend.'
KG: Here's another really one fun too... Recently (and this will be my last story...) ... Recently, I got ....
KG: I got this letter from the - what's the guy's name? He's a big literary agent... in New York. What's that... Andrew... I can't remember....
KG: Anyway... it's representing the estate of William S. Burroughs. And we've got lots and lots and lots of Burroughs stuff up here. And we've also got tons of films and all that. The estate of William S. Burroughs, the very agency Andrew Wylie - big powerful agency- I get a letter from Andrew Wylie. Do I have time to just show this email that came in? You're going to laugh. It's really one of the funniest ones I've ever received.
KG: That's not the good one... that was an earlier one.
KG: Okay, I love this. Okay, comments .... 'This communication serves as statement that I wish to write you from the Wylie agency as a duly authorised representative .....Willian S. Burroughs ... please take down all of this stuff...
KG: 'And please know that these works are protected by copyright. And I am the copyright holder and I confirm that this material is not authorised.' ... I love this one... 'Under penalty of perjury in the US court of law, I state that the information contained in this notification is accurate and I'm authorised to act on behalf. Remove or disable this material.'
KG: Now the f*&^ing thing is that...they did a search on the site, and any mention of Burroughs including song titles or an artist bibliography is their permission.... an interview with Henri Chopin where he mentions William S. Burroughs. An interview with Brion Gysin where he mentions William S. Burroughs. It's absolutely ridiculous! They're just trying to scare me.
KG: So I wrote her back...and I just said '"Please note that these are protected by copyright", - I believe they are as well, but many copyrights are not yours' and therefore you have no claim on them.' "And I work with the copyright owner... and this material is not authorised" - and I said some of it might be, much of it isn't. For example you don't hold the copyright to Nick Currie, Momus' work. He uses William S. Burroughs name in one of his songs. And I know that because Nick gave me these files. No, no, you don't own that.
KG: "Under penalty of perjury in a United States court of law..." - I said, under penalty of law this information is not accurate. I said, 'I'm happy to correct these violations that actually are yours, the cutting and pasting of an internet search based on the name of William S. Burroughs and claiming that anything on the site with that name is yours', is not helpful to achieving that goal.
KG: I'll don't know. Then if they really don't want a film up there, I'll take it down, I don't really care.
KG: And. ... "Thank you for your swift reply. I sent the links to the concerned party...We'll double check the list below". And they came back with another list. And it was James Grauerholz, who was the former lover of William S. Burroughs who holds the estate. I sent them a note- 'Dear Mr. Grauerholz, William S. Burroughs said that poetry wants to be free. Poetry belongs to people. We're not selling anything here, they're just worthless relics.' And it shut him up. It appealed, to the heart of what William S. Burroughs was about, a sort of democratic idea of poetry- actually shut the William S. Burroughs estate up from all this.
KG: So its a little bit of talk, and a lot of scam. They just want to scare the shit of you all the time. Most people would go 'Oh my God! Look at the lawsuit that's coming.' And I just say no, we'll talk about it.
KG: Okay, I'm running over... So thank you...for your time.