I spent the morning removing Ani DiFranco lyrics from my book manuscript. I was obliged to do so because DiFranco had refused me permission to use them, despite two emails to Righteous Babe Records that were thorough, pointed and courtesy.
It’s not as if DiFranco had anything to fear from this anthropologist. My treatment was laudatory. I regard her as a transformational exemplar. Here’s my opening sentence for her from the book.
Ani DiFranco is a phenomenon, largely self taught, almost entirely self invented, the creator of a genre of music, the founder of her own record company, and probably the most gifted feminist performer at work in the U.S. today.
And it’s not like I was asking for the catalogue, probably around 130 words taken from a variety of songs. I think this represents a very nervous eye on the copyright watch.
DiFranco is entitled to control copyright in this way, but it is also worth observing that she has made a career mocking music labels for their narrow, controlling ways. Apparently, it’s ok for her to act this way.
And odd too. This is not the DiFranco you think you see on stage and in the ones and zeros. I guess this tells us that she never was what she contrived to seem, a champion of an open source culture.
DiFranco’s contribution to the open source culture came in the powerful argument that women should decide who they are, not men, and that individual women should decide who they are, not groups of women. Or to use the more particular language of open source, DiFranco seemed to say that every women has the right to do her own coding, to construct herself according to her own objectives out of our her scripts and routines, and that she is free to refuse "sealed code" from higher authorities and the originating software provider.
The second possibility is that DiFranco is aging, changing, narrowing, risking less and controlling more.
I guess the transformational career continues.