A work of 'Degradarte' is a work of art (images, music, poetry...) created in conformance with the Italian proposed law S1861.
[ http://www.interlex.it/testi/s1861.htm ]
This new law is based on a Parlamentary initiative, and has also been signed by italian minister Rutelli who had access to the consulency of the permanent Advisory Committee on copyright, producing a report that had been delivered to him on December 18th, 3 days before the law's approval, on December 21st.
The Committee, in turn, created two special commissions to create such a report, inviting rights managment companies such as the italian SIAE nd FIMI, politicians, academics, technologists and exponents of digital users associations. The proposals emerged in this collaboration were really structurally different from what has been proposed in the new law. You can read about them here:
[ Le Nostre Utilizzazioni Libere ]
[ Articolo 70. Se lo Riscrivessimo ]
Insted the new law reads, at article 2 comma 1-bis:
'The publishing of low resolution or degraded versions of protected images and sounds is allowed in the Internet Network, free of charge, for scientific and educational use, as long as this use is not aimed at profit'
The legislator states, in this way, a principle of 'negative aesthetics': the degrade is the constraint to bear for the free diffusion of a work of art.
But the degrading process imposed by this law can be used as a euristic creative process, giving life to freely avaliable works of art:
from degrading art, to the art of degrading!
And it's not all. The only apparently simple statement affirmed by the italian legislator is a truly problematic one.
On one side the problem is the evaluation of the level of 'degrading' of contents, keeping an eye on the technological evolution (eg.: what was, only a few months ago, 'high resolution', can easily be, today, in 'low resolution'), the compression technologies, the possibilities offered by the new media in terms of reproduction of digital contents, and in video, image, sound and text processing.
On the other side we need to look at artworks in their essence: music, image, and text require specific degrading processes, and each of them is connected to specific aspects of their communicative and informational processes.
This reform attempt performed by the italian institutions puts us in the conditions to start a debate on the 'degradability' of a digitally reproduced work of art. A work of art that is digitally distributed is, as a matter of fact, 'degraded' in nature (compressed, sampled, scannerized...)
A brand new aesthetic and semiotic research movement is born. We want to investigate on the methodologies, techniques and theories to create and/or re-elaborate works of art to produce new ones conformant to the requisites for degradation needed for their free circulation on the Internet.
As required by the law.
Roll up your sleeves and Happy degrading to you all!