Philosophical Musings

September 14, 2007

Copyrights vs. Creativity

Filed under: Copyrights,music — Elad Kehat @ 9:03 am

TechCrunch (well, actully Reuters) reports that 80’s pop-star Prince (formerly known as The Artists Formerly Known as Prince) plans to sue a number of top websites, such as YouTube, for copyrights infringement.

Note this quote from Reuters:

“But it is believed to be rare for an individual artist of Prince’s stature to take on popular Web sites, while some up-and-coming performers actually encourage online file sharing to create a fan base and buzz around a record.”

It’s no wonder that up-and-coming performers encourage file sharing – they need to promote themselves in order to create an audience for their material.
Even no-longer up-and-coming artists promote their new material through file sharing.
However, if your fountain of creativity now has plumbing problems, and your new material isn’t any good (and you have to resort to tricks to promote it), then your best strategy is certainly to protect your income from the old material – which makes Prince’s move very logical (as it does Metallica’s prominent position in the ranks of file-sharing critics).
What we must ask ourselves though, is whether any of this makes sense for society as a whole. Preventing file sharing on copyrights grounds nowadays serves to secure more wealth to the already wealthy yesterday’s pop-star, while making it harder for new stars to emerge. It certainly does not “promote the progress of science and useful arts“.

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1 Comment »

  1. What do the Internet Pirates call it … “Purple Rain”?

    This is an interesting debate for sure. And one we are beginning to address on our new web site and blogs on a regular basis as well.

    But I must say, as one who has been employing artists, designers, cartoonists, illustrators, and digitizers ever since the days when “Prince” was only “Prince”, none of us fall within your broad generalization of an “already wealthy yesterday’s pop star”.
    This is not a battle between an ultra rich “copyright” minority and the “creative” masses who are all homeless and starving.

    Let’s at least explain the true story behind this debate accurately.

    Google has decided unilaterally that it is up to their culture to do what is fair and just for all the rest of us. We stand by and watch while they give each other massages and eat free gourmet meals. They distribute our copyrighted materials, keep all the advertising fess for themselves, and invest $20 million in moon rockets.

    Fact is, we have had to lay off dozens of very hard working, creative, and dedicated people due to flagrant Internet piracy within our ranks over the years. These folks have a hard time making ends meet when their hard work is stolen from them and freely distributed without attribution or fair compensation.

    I am sure these “pirates” think they are doing us some kind of huge favor by freely distributing “free samples” of our work. “Creating a market for us”, in your words. It doesn’t work the way those of you without direct experience seem to think it should. People who become accustomed to getting their music, artwork, software or movies for free (stolen or not stolen) over the Internet continue to “shop” that way. If a copyright holder tries to “shift them” to a paid subscription service or pay-per-download service, the vast majority tend to bolt with the first sign of someone asking them to actually pay a fair price. They’ll simply find something else to be loyal to if it’s free.

    I don’t think it is good journalism for you to throw out socialistic or free market “theories” to your readers without one shred of evidence. Seeding a market with stolen goods does not work!

    Copyright protection, and choices for the artists (not simply greedy distributors like YouTube and Google), have been around for over 200 years in this country. They work. As long as we can keep the crooks out of the game. We have a larger user base of newly copyrighted material than the rest of the world put together from what I have read.

    There’s a huge difference here that I don’t believe many of you in the “tech media” field seem to understand. Don’t you think the choice should be made by the individual artist (copyright owner), not someone creating very little original material themselves (sorry, Google) and simply leading the herds?

    You see, the vast majority of copyright holders (my estimate is well over 90%) in this country are actually individual creative people and small development companies like mine. Not Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, or Eric Schmidt. We depend on copyright protection for survival. Some of us may decide that creating a new market with free distribution of our copyrighted works is a smart choice, and some of us may not.

    But the Constitution (and our current copyright laws in this country) give this choice to us, not you. Let the free market decide whether it wants to support Prince’s way of doing business, and creating useful art, or it wants to put him out to pasture.

    Nothing says a legitimate copyright holder cannot choose to give all of his/her work to YouTube for free if they choose to do so. YouTube deciding this for them, however, is pure and simple “stealing”. There’s no intelligent debate on that issue.

    You are right on one point … the 80’s were simpler times … but nowhere near as exciting as things are today!

    What exactly do you expect Prince to do here … cry for “Purple Rain”?

    George P. Riddick, III
    Chairman/CEO
    Imageline, Inc.

    griddick@imageline2.com

    Comment by George Riddick — September 14, 2007 @ 2:54 pm | Reply


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