Chris Cutler (Recommended Records - London) levele

Did Lukin have the right to forbid the access to the free mp3s ?

If he was a composer or artist whose work was featured, I would say yes, he has a moral right. I think permission should be asked and granted before any material is made public. I would not like just any live recording I had been involved in to be put up on a website. A website is a permanent record, like a CD, painting, book. I think artists should have control over their own work, especially over what is put into the public domain. However, a demand for thousands of dollars sounds wholly unreasonable (actuall it sounds greedy), especially if he is only a participant. When a number of people is involved I think they have to work it out amongst themselves first (as Henry Cow does, for instance with its reissue policy). After that it can go on a site or not. Problem here seems to be that no one asked.

- Can such a behaviour of a former rebel now a trader be called
reactionary (sorry for being brutal in terms)?

Anyone can change their mind, see sense, rethink their position; why not? I don't think it's necessarily reactionary to want to control which of your own works are made public. Also, looked at from a commercial position, suppose you wanted to sell something you had made (in order to be paid for your work in making it) it would not be wrong in my opinion to be angry if someone else took it and gave it away for free (then your work is never paid for). If you made a chair and someone took it without asking and gave it to a passer-by in the street, it would be perfectly legitimate for you to be angry. I wouldn't think that was reactionary. Internet doesn't mean everything should be free, does it? Internet doesn't care. Free or not free it's a human choice. Suppose I make a CD and someone puts it up on a website for free, suppose because of that I don't sell any and that without any income I lose the money I spent making it and my label goes bankrupt. OK, no more Chris Cutler records, free or not, (maybe that wouldn't be a bad thing, but I would feel bad about it). There needs to be some perspective. Life costs money. If you want an artist to make art, they have to live. On free you can't live.

- Can an mp3 site be understood as a free library (only three songs from an
album) ?

Yes, it's a free library and that's good. ReR puts up extracts of releases so that listeners can have some idea of what the record is like. Don't get me wrong, free is good. I like it. I am only saying that the decision whether it is free or not should be a decision made by the artist/worker/maker and not by some outside party who has invested nothing in the work. Anyone can give away for free things that don't belong to them, that's not work. The question has to be, what are the consequences?

- Can live-recordings from the past system be put on the Internet or
published by the organiser of the concert?

They can, of course, the technology makes it eas, but should they? I would say unequivocally not. A performance belongs to everyone at a concert, but a recording of a performance belongs, morally, only to the performer. That's my view. If an artist agrees to put the work on a site, that's fine. If not, it shouldn't be there. Or he or she should be persuaded. There is no relation between recording a concert for private listening (which I think is fine) and making it available to the public.

- Should the government support the author rights in these cases or is it a
utopia (they have never so far).

Again I would say that if the composer wants author rights, they should have them (very utopian with the criminal collection agencies who collect and don't pay, but ideally I think all rights should be paid) unless the author agrees to waive payment. Then it's free. Payment is a whole separate issue and my views are long and complicated! Sometime I'll be somewhere to discuss this, it's a big question. I have thought about it, but it takes more time than I have before you need this back.

- Does the term underground have any sense after the changes ? Is
underground the same as non-commercial, or rather politically critical ?

In a capitalist system, same as any other system 'underground' is a consensual grouping. An involuntary underground is a bad concept. In the East European situation 'underground' of course had a special meaning, one that can not be the same now that the system has changed. There there are still alternative groups of no-sayers of course. ReR is a no-sayer, but I wouldn't call it part of an underground - but then the things one is against in capitalism are more shadowy, complex and diffuse than an entity as visible and monolithic as 'the state'.

- What's your general opinion on music on the Internet ?

Internet is a fine way to link people, including 'alternative people', and a good way to make music available. Now that there is so much music and so little is distributed by the handful of major commercial companies that dominate the market, internet is a valuable resource for finding obscure music. There's nothing wrong with the medium, question is, how is it used, by whom and for what?

- Is the situation common in other East/European countries?
- Internet doesn't recognise geographical entities.

chris cutler

79 Beulah Rd.
Thornton Heath
Surrey CR7 8JG