An examination of illegality benefiting everyone

by davidnielsen

Sometimes I get upset over copyright, most recently Lily Allens public statements and requests that copyright be enforced with increasing strictness and demands that violators be persecuted harshly managed to trigger me. This is not about Ms. Allen’s unconsidered statements which artist Dan Bull and others already addressed. This is about a specific example of creativity that is very likely not legal but which benefiting everyone.

An artist going by the name Colorpulse recently released a piece called A Glorious Dawn which mixes samples of late astronomer and science popularizer Carl Sagan from his fantastic mini-series Cosmos to produce a truly fantastic song. A song that in all likelihood would cost him his house and livelihood should the current rights holder elect to sue him. Here is why this would be a bad idea.

Cosmos ran in the 80’s and most of todays young people have not seen it at all, despite the fact that it is a wonderful mini-series that while that old is still very relevant in todays world. Carl Sagan more than any scientist in recent history has managed to convey why science is both beautiful and fascinating and why looking up at the stars should be a source of inspiration and wonder as well as understanding. Sagan inspired millions to pursue a life of seeking knowledge, he explained science in a way that got people excited. All that is sadly being lost now and Carl was robbed from this world by cancer more than a decade ago.

Without belittling the efforts of such people as Stephen Hawking, Neil deGrasse Tyson and others I hope, I would state that there isn’t any single scientist who has managed to take his place and continue furthering the public understanding of science with the same vitality and excitement as Sagan did. Most in the younger generation have not had a chance to get to know his work, his books or his bubbling enthusiasm for understanding nor anyones popular works of science for that matter. We are seeing bits here and there in popular entertainment but gone are the days when Carl Sagan would wow audiences with tales of recent discoveries from the cosmos we all inhabit on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Science isn’t for the public anymore and it suffers because of it.

This song is a tribute to Sagan and by providing a catchy way for the younger generation to learn of his work, a fraction of them might go and watch Cosmos. Some might even buy it or read one of his excellent books (personally I recommend The Demon-Haunted World and Pale Blue Dot). This would generate revenue and benefit society as well.

The young people for whom this experience proves to be the spark that lights a lifelong love of knowledge might grow up to be engineers, doctors, astronomers, biologists, teachers. For those that do not manage to get involve with science or do not wish to, one might hope that such an experience instilled at least a respect science and those who use it to let the universe reveal it’s workings to us and an understanding of the importance it plays. One can still look at the sky and wonder even if one does not do it through a telescope, I catch myself doing that on night walks and the experience and wonder is overwhelming even when I acknowledge that I alone will never understand it all. I am happy knowing that a multitude of people around me like me understand little bits and together we and generations to come might piece those bits together to form the whole picture.. still it remains beautiful, awe inspiring, terrifying and yet simply wonderful.

A Glorious Dawn is also a fantastic display of creativity, clearly Colorpulse takes something that was Sagans and makes it his own. This kind of experimentation and playful exploration of culture could lead anywhere. The people who discover their way of expressing themselves this way might end up enriching society in ways we could never have imagined. I thank Colorpulse for enriching society, for bringing joy to my heart and for making me think.

Killing that before it happens deprives us all.