What If More Money Makes People Less Inclined To Create?

from the promoting-what-progress? dept

The entire premise behind copyright law is that by making sure there is enough financial remuneration, people will be more interested in creating more great content. The argument of those who push for ever stronger copyright law is always based on this very premise, with the often explicit claim being "if artists can't make enough money making art, they'll do something else instead," while suggesting that would be a net negative to society. Now I'm all for artists making money and being able to create more art. It's why I spend so much time discussing business models that work for those artists. But what if that entire concept -- that we need this monetary incentive to create -- is bunk?

Peter Friedman points us to a short piece by Malcolm Gladwell, discussing the findings of Dan Pink in his new book Drive, which compiles tons of scientific research on motivation -- and finds that money can actually hinder, rather than help, the incentives to create:
His jumping-off point is the academic work done over the past few decades that consistently shows that financial rewards hinder creativity. These studies have been around for a while. But Pink follows through on their implications in a way that is provocative and fascinating. The way we structure organizations and innovation, after all, almost always assumes that the prospect of financial reward is the prime human motivator. We think that the more we pay people, the better results we'll get. But what if that isn't true? What the research shows, instead, is that the great wellspring of creativity is intrinsic motivation--that is, I do my best work for personal rewards (out of love or intellectual fulfillment) and not external motivation (money).
Indeed, the more you think about this, the more obvious it becomes. There are lots of reasons why people do things, and economic motivation is for marginal benefit, which some (bad) economists equate directly to cash. But many people value other things much more than cold hard cash -- and it's quite interesting to see that the pursuit of money may actually hinder aspects of creativity.

Again, this is not to say artists should not get paid. I'm very much in favor of business models where artists do get paid. But it absolutely calls into question the very central argument for copyright, and suggests that, if anything, copyright may hinder the incentive to create, rather than promote it. This is a big, big deal -- and if we had an evidence-based copyright regime, rather than a faith-based one, it's something that Congress would consider. Tragically, that seems quite unlikely any time soon.


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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 9:20am

    Prediction

    Despite "Again, this is not to say artists should not get paid", I predict someone will say "SO YOU ARE SAYING ARTIST SHOULD BE ON THE STREETS EATING DEAD DOGS MIKE? IS THAT IT?!"

    Artists should absolutely be compensated. The issue that most people have a difficulty understanding is that the market gets to decide how much. Artists can improve their chances by coming up with better business models, but at the end of the day, it's up to the market. Give your fans a reason to buy and you will get paid.

     

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    Free Capitalist (profile), Apr 16th, 2010 @ 9:23am

    Curious

    I suppose a less scientific take would be that a stack of cash can make it real easy to rest on one's laurels. After all, it was hunger that created the spear.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 9:30am

    "What if more money makes people less inclined to create?" -- then you have another great excuse to pirate music!

    Do you expect ANY other reaction?

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), Apr 16th, 2010 @ 9:38am

    Re: Curious

    "After all, it was hunger that created the spear."

    Little known fact: Bonk the caveman tried to collect royalties for his spear invention, but was done in by someone who had pirated his design and used it slay him....

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 9:39am

    "What If More Money Makes People Less Inclined To Create?"

    There is an economic term for this. It's known as the backwards bending labor supply curve.

     

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Apr 16th, 2010 @ 9:47am

    Re: Re: Curious

    LOL.

    Actually, it wasn't piracy--it was a derivative work. Very similar in some way to the original.

     

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    Hulser (profile), Apr 16th, 2010 @ 10:04am

    Prospect

    Perhaps this is a problem of the New Yorker article rather than the book, but there seems to be a conflation of two distinct concepts here.

    1) "financial rewards hinder creativity"

    2) "the prospect of financial reward is the prime human motivator"

    Notice that the first statement references financial rewards after the fact, whereas the second statement references financial rewards before the fact. Some might consider this a quibble, but as others have alluded to in the comments, it seems blatantly obvious that the affect on creativity before you strike it rich would be substantially different after you strike it rich. Any theory that doesn't properly take into account this distinction would seem to be fundamentally flawed.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 16th, 2010 @ 10:08am

    That's why we'll have millions of artists

    This is what I have been saying about the state of the arts today.

    Technology is allowing millions of people to create to some degree or another. It's fun to create content, so many people will begin to see themselves as "artists" more than as "fans." That's good for society.

    In addition there's going to be more writing, artwork, photos, and music than anyone can consume. And there is some excellent stuff out there available for free.

    So whatever models we may think about are more likely to be based on abundance rather than scarcity.

    Here's how I explored it:

    Brands Plus Music: Hypercompetition, Scarcity, and the Economics of Music

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 10:19am

    what if monkeys fly out of your butt? i hope amex isnt paying too much for this dribble.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 10:23am

    Re:

    How much do you get paid to post your "dribble" here?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 10:32am

    Re:

    Thanks for adding to the discussion with your interesting rebuttal. Now stop posting.

     

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    Wes, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 10:41am

    Not mentioned in your post: the effect unnecessary rewards have on extremely popular artists.

    Artists work for money, but at some point the amount of money earned will have a negative effect on production, ie. artists that have already made millions may decline to do more work.

     

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    Darryl, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 10:53am

    What 'other' models

    And the previous posters was right, it's what the customers are willing to pay for something, that gives it it's worth.

    It's not for you to define alternative business models, simply because you dont agree with the existing and functional models that have evolved throughout human history.

    Allright, so by you're logic, just doing it for the love of it,,, it's a joke right. So the movie maker need to get all the actors to work for free, and the directors, producers, writers, studio techs, support staff, advertising and promotion... equipment and film, ALL FOR FREE. just out of the desire to create something ?? you're joking right !!

    who apart from you, wanting something for free benifits from this, and why do you expect a certain group of people to work for free, just because they create things that you want.

    There is huge risk in making music or movies or software, it might be a flop, and it's costs alot to make those things.

    You think songs and albums just appear from dust ?

    No there are studio's, writers, musicians, instruments, equipment, buildings, electricity and many hours to years work. And you want them to pay for all that, and accept no money for their effort and risk.

    Who is going to pay for those people, and that equipment, the infrastructure that goes into creating a hit song, or a hit movie, or some killer software, or a great book.

    These are products that have great monetary value, and not just to the artists who created it.

    Take for example, "the simpsons", it's little more than a bunch of idea's making up each episode. The Interlectual property is in the idea's and concepts for the show.

    It has great value, because it's popular, and if a TV station purchases the series, they will get good ratings when they show it. These good ratings means they can charge more for the advertising space during the show. That is the value derived from the Interlectual property.

    Same with songs, a popular song will play on the radio more often because it will keep people listening to that station, therefore again more listeners, more advertising revenue.

    So the more they are willing to pay for the original product in the first place.

    Sure, the creaters of the simpsons make lots of money, but they also make alot of money for the staff, the anamaters, the TV stations, and all the companies what use it's popularity to sell their products while the show is on air.

    It's a simple model, and it works very well.

    And to tell you the truth, I dont think very many people would be able to create something like 'the simpsons' with you're 'new world order' of "what's mine is mine, and whats you're is mine".

    I dont expect that flooding the world with everyone's own little creations dont in their kitchen is going to cut it.

    Mabey you have a job, but mabey you dont create anything new or innovative in you're job (bad luck), but if you did create or innovate in you're job, you would probably be upset to see someone else taking advantage of you're hard work, and not rewarding you for it.

    And that is exactly what you are asking those creative people to do.

    Just because you are not creative, is no reason to punish those who are.

    Again, no matter how you spin it, it just looks like you want something for nothing, and dont care about the creaters of that product.

    Linux is copyrighted, it has value (to some), and it's free, so some things can have value and be free (with significant strings attached).

    But that is the choice of FOSS to use that model, and just because they do, does not mean everyone else has to follow that model.

    BTW: historically the FOSS model has been far from successful, and by all measures is not a viable model.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 10:55am

    Re: Re:

    thank you for commenting on my comment. now stop reading.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 11:02am

    Re: Re: Re:

    A fear of upper-case capitalization seems to indicate a fear of the Caps Lock key and/or the Shift key. Why are you afraid of those two keys? Is it an issue with anger management? Do capital letters frighten you?

     

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    Free Capitalist (profile), Apr 16th, 2010 @ 11:03am

    Re: Re: Curious

    Bonk the caveman tried to collect royalties for his spear invention, but was done in by someone who had pirated his design and used it slay him....


    HA HA HA!

    The story of the first patent hoarder. Thanks for that DH

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 11:03am

    Re: What 'other' models

    You sure love straw men, don't you?

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 16th, 2010 @ 11:17am

    Re: What 'other' models

    There are a lot of things people will do for free, including art, music, sports, etc. But somewhere along the line we need to get compensated to pay our bills. Either everything is for free, everything is for barter, or we have to find a system to get money into people's pockets.

    We're definitely challenged in this area, as jobs disappear and we haven't found the right ones to replace many of them.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 11:23am

    Re: Re: What 'other' models

    But somewhere along the line we need to try to get compensated to pay our bills.

    If you want to pay your bills you could also try to get a real job just like everybody else?

     

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    Hulser (profile), Apr 16th, 2010 @ 11:24am

    Re: Re: What 'other' models

    Hello Darryl. Let me translate the AC's comment above. Based on the content and format of your post, I'm guessing that you won't understand the reference. See, your whole post is completely irrelevent because you're arguing against a position that Mike did not take. He explicitly stated in his post...

    "Again, this is not to say artists should not get paid. I'm very much in favor of business models where artists do get paid."

    Protip: Your comments will have much more impact if you actually respond to what Mike said rather than what you assume he said.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 16th, 2010 @ 11:32am

    Re: Re: Re: What 'other' models

    If you want to pay your bills you could also try to get a real job just like everybody else?

    Sure. But a place like Detroit is challenged. There are places where jobs have been eliminated, people are willing to be retrained, but there's not many options. They'd maybe move, but they don't have money for that either.

    I know a lot tech people whose jobs were sent to India. I think people are very willing to work, and some take retail sales jobs to get some income, but world economics put a lot of jobs in flux these days. Similarly, if it can be done in China, chances are it will be done in China.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 11:35am

    Re: Prospect

    Precisely. Just look at J.D. Salinger. After striking it rich on his first book, he never wrote again. The financial rewards from Catcher in the Rye has enabled him to cease being creative afterward.

     

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    Free Capitalist (profile), Apr 16th, 2010 @ 11:39am

    Re: What 'other' models

    existing and functional models


    Snicker.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 11:40am

    Financial incentives can promote creative work in many cases. There are many people who want to create, who have that inner drive but who need to be able to support themselves. Without the prospect of monetary rewards for their work and only lots of production costs, rent, and bills to pay, many film makers would just give up on their dream project.
    However, this only really applies to a certain point. If they can bring in enough to pay their costs and earn a decent living, and have enough money on hand to begin their next work, that's financial incentive enough to keep on creating with the added benefit that they need to keep creating. When one has enough money that they are effectively set for life, it removes one reason to create, the need to pay those bills. That's one reason century-long copyright might not be a good thing; if the work falls into the public domain in five, ten, twenty years, the creator will have all the more incentive to make something new in that time.
    Enough money to provide a good living and sustain the production -> Already creative people will find the time, means, and motivation to create.
    Massive excess amounts of money -> Some will begin resting on their laurels.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 11:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: What 'other' models

    Well, when you put it that way . . . .

    If non-artistic people are having trouble finding a stable income then why are we really worrying all that much about artistic folk, who can still try to make some money off of their talents?

    I'm more frightened of a world where average people are unemployed than a world where just some musicians cannot find work.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 11:49am

    Re:

    if the work falls into the public domain in five, ten, twenty years, the creator will have all the more incentive to make something new in that time.

    Not only that, but the creator now has an abundant source of material with which to draw from in order to create.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 16th, 2010 @ 11:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What 'other' models

    If non-artistic people are having trouble finding a stable income then why are we really worrying all that much about artistic folk, who can still try to make some money off of their talents?

    That was my point too. The art, music, sports, writing, photography, will get done, whether or not people are compensated for it, because people want to do it. So that's not my concern.

    What I am wondering is what people can do to get compensated. Forget the art. What kind of day jobs are available these days?

     

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    Devonavar, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 12:09pm

    The problem is the word "incentive"

    I don't believe money has ever been a primary incentive for artists. The people for whom money is *the* reason to create end up creating works that will generate the most money ... and this is fundamentally opposed to creating art, which is about *expression*, not market research.

    But, the waters are muddied when the projects get bigger. Money may never be an incentive for art, but it certainly enables it. In particular it enables large scale projects, like movies or large-scale records. Mass-media scale projects like these can't get off the ground without a substantial amount of money -- more than even your average rich person can supply.

    As this applies to copyright: Copyright enabled the creation of mass media because it made it profitable. We would certainly have had far fewer records and movies in the 20th century if it hadn't been possible to prevent commercial piracy.

    Perhaps this is also true on the internet, but I think it is less so. The internet enables mass distribution (not the same as mass media) without requiring a large amount of money, so all the "amateur" labours of love (which have no financial incentive) can be distributed to the world at large at minimal cost. The cost of producing and distributing records and movies has come way down, sometimes within reach of being funded out-of-pocket by a single artist.

    So, no, money is not an incentive. But it's still a necessary part of the creative process where larger scale arts are concerned.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 12:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    no only morons who comment on it. hi mike.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 12:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Seriously, I am not Mike. Why do insist that those who respond to you are Mike? Why call me a moron? Are you afraid of people called Mike? Does this fear have anything to do with your inability to use upper-case capitalization?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 12:31pm

    Re: Re: What 'other' models

    Suzanne:

    There is an entire point that was completely missed - at least, thus far.

    Yes, lots of people create NOT for money, but for themselves or for fun. However, TONS of people also refuse to share what they created. After all, it was created for personal enjoyment, not money. Even inventors do this. Tesla sold his inventions to get money so that...wait for it...he could invent more. Amazing concept. Was his motivation "money"? Heck no. His motivation was his own (actually, many people still debate his precise motivations, but he was continually after more money to experiment more).

    Sure, "money" is not a "primary" motivator, and "too much money," not "money," could actually reduce creativity, but complete lack of money can also hinder creativity and it will darn sure keep some people from sharing what they create; maybe a lot of people.

     

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    sam, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 12:50pm

    Re: Prediction

    paid astroturfer people. see how he immediate jumps to the ungodly beyond other side extreme.

     

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    nasch (profile), Apr 16th, 2010 @ 12:53pm

    Re: What 'other' models

    Despite "Again, this is not to say artists should not get paid", I predict someone will say "SO YOU ARE SAYING ARTIST SHOULD BE ON THE STREETS EATING DEAD DOGS MIKE? IS THAT IT?!"

    This guy nailed it.

     

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    john, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 1:05pm

    artists have the right to be paid. they do not have the legal right to tell you what to do with your property after you purchase it. they do not have the legal right to be paid for it in perpetuity for like 70 years after they die.

     

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    Hulser (profile), Apr 16th, 2010 @ 1:24pm

    Re:

    artists have the right to be paid

    I agree with the overall point you're making, but in regards to the specific comment above, I disagree. I would say that an artist has a right to the opportunity to be paid. If I make a bunch of crappy clay ashtrays and try to sell them at the local arts fair, no one has an obligation to buy them i.e. I don't have the right to be paid. It's like the US Constitution which stipulates the right to the pursuit of happiness, not the right to happiness.

    I do agree with your last two statements, but I think your first statement exposes the general bias that many people have to justify the second two.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 1:37pm

    Why is this limited to artistic creation and not productivity in general? After all, what's a better motivator of productivity: the idea that if you're not productive, you won't get some luxury good, or the idea that if you're not productive, you'll starve?

    It behooves us to cap wages at, say, 10% above subsistence level to ensure maximum productivity for all workers. I mean, we want to provide SOME incentive to work harder and not just do the minimum. We should also ban retirement before people's productive working lives are over. Rather than a wage cap, you could take any excess wages in the form of taxes to redistribute them to people whose productivity is limited by some accident of circumstance (disability, for example). This might also necessitate the development of a central planning bureau to set prices for goods, just so nobody gets taken advantage of.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 16th, 2010 @ 1:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: What 'other' models

    ... complete lack of money can also hinder creativity and it will darn sure keep some people from sharing what they create; maybe a lot of people.

    There are people who I think are so gifted that they should be doing creative stuff full-time.

    However, right now finding a business model that will work is hard. The problem with what some people suggest (e.g., artists can raise money doing online auctions, maintaining online communities, offering themselves up for lunches) is that isn't art, either. If they are going to do that, they might as well consider any day job that pays them well. Figure out what pays the best per hour and do that, even if it is totally unconnected with art. (Which is why the bigger challenge, in the greater scheme of things, is to figure out how to create more high paying jobs in the US.)

    Patronage seems to be the most direct way to support a few very talented artists. People who believe in them provide those artists with a living wage so they can continue to create. Then they can give away their art and still pay their bills.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 16th, 2010 @ 1:54pm

    Re:

    Why is this limited to artistic creation and not productivity in general? After all, what's a better motivator of productivity: the idea that if you're not productive, you won't get some luxury good, or the idea that if you're not productive, you'll starve?

    Actually I think Pink's writing ISN'T about the arts. I think he was talking about motivation in general, particularly in the workplace. So you're probably right to ask if people lose interest in their jobs as their salaries go up.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 16th, 2010 @ 2:00pm

    Re: Re:

    Here's just a sample. I don't think Pink is writing about the arts, copyright, or patents. There's a lot more out there about Pink if anyone wants research it more fully.

    What Drives Motivation in the Modern Workplace? | PBS NewsHour | April 15, 2010 | PBS: "DANIEL PINK: We do things because they're interesting. We do things because we like them. We do things because we get better at them, because they contribute to the world, even if they don't have a payoff in getting a reward or satisfying some -- some biological drive.

    This is not a plea for a kinder, gentler approach to business. This is a plea for saying, let's wake up. Let's get past our outdated assumptions, and let's actually run businesses in concert with what the science shows about human performance."

     

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    btrussell (profile), Apr 16th, 2010 @ 2:16pm

    Aren't we all "artists?"

    Everyone is good at something.

    How many "lost arts" are there?

    What makes one "art" more valuable than another? Perception? Scarcity?...

    Who is more valuable,singer,football player or Doctor?
    Who is paid the most?

    You can lay blame to todays situation on the "con artist."

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 2:17pm

    Re: Re:

    I am also glad to see American Express sponsoring this content; perhaps it will be a harbinger of changes in future business practices. For example, their CEO has a "performance-based cash bonus". This is clearly folly. We have established that people do their best work when motivated by something other than their basest need for cash.

    It is a little surprising that a forward-thinking company like AmEx would be creating an incentive structure for their CEO based on greed, rather than noble motives like the good feeling you get when you make it more convenient for people to buy things, or from giving people easily-accessible short-term loans at the lowest possible interest rate.

    Can you imagine the productivity gains they would incur if they dropped salaries by half across the board?

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 16th, 2010 @ 2:35pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    :-)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 2:44pm

    Re: The problem is the word "incentive"

    Money isn't the reason to create, it's the means to keep creating.

     

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    Mike, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 2:55pm

    Re: Re: Prediction

    I dont think that there's any sign whatsoever that the first AC commenter is paid.

    Although the tone was rather course, the prediction that Masnick would be accused of saying "X", when he specifically says "not X" in the article, is not just coming out of left field. Commenters here (and basically everywhere on the internet) frequently do just that. Any regular reader here might be disappointed or frustrated when that happens, but probably not surprised.

     

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    btrussell (profile), Apr 16th, 2010 @ 3:14pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Without doing a study, I think I can safely guarantee that thousands of people would gladly do their job for half the money and bonuses.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 3:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Without doing a study, I think I can safely guarantee that thousands of people would gladly do their job for half the money and bonuses.

    Assuming this is true, then something must have screwed up somewhere along the lines. A truly optimal system would then be paying people half as much. So, there must be some reason for this sub-optimal behavior of the system. Now it certainly can't be the free market, because the free market is infallible in these regards. Therefore, it must be abusive and overbearing government regulation. It may also have something to do with corporate personhood.

    Quick, help me figure this out, we have an economy to save!

     

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  47.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 4:19pm

    Re: What 'other' models

    So want us to ignore the fact that 70% of linux development is paid for? Or the fact that companies like red hat make linux support their main business?

    Or how about the fact linux is used on the majority of servers?(Not all success is related to money after all)

     

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  48.  
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    btrussell (profile), Apr 16th, 2010 @ 4:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    How did we get from CEOs' making hundreds of thousands of dollars per year or more, as well as receiving multi-million dollar bonuses, to "people."

     

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  49.  
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    Chris Ruen, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 5:31pm

    At a loss

    Mike,

    How old are you?

    "I'm very much in favor of business models where artists do get paid. But it absolutely calls into question the very central argument for copyright, and suggests that, if anything, copyright may hinder the incentive to create, rather than promote it."

    A) You're clearly biased toward particular models in which a tiny, tiny fraction of artists get paid, and against the largely functional one which has been proven to more-or-less "work." You're in favor of artists getting paid just as long as it fits in with your own open-source delusions.

    B) This does zero to question the incentives of copyright. Even in flush times for the majors, practically no one struck it rich. If you want artists to have the time and energy to contribute their work to the culture at large, they need to be able to pay their rent and feed themselves. That's what copyright is achieving for most artists. We're not talking AIG money here, buddy.

     

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  50.  
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    Internet Reader, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 6:01pm

    But if the pay is good...

    ...then why do I only work hard enough to not get fired?

     

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  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 6:57pm

    apparently it is true. the masnick signs up high end sponsors for almost meaningless new sites then suddenly disappears. perhaps all that money has made him less productive and more likely to spend time away.

     

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  52.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 7:29pm

    Re: At a loss

    If you want artists to have the time and energy to contribute their work to the culture at large, they need to be able to pay their rent and feed themselves.

    Art is still made even in the face of not being able to pay the rent or eating. Exihibit A: any artist.

     

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  53.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 16th, 2010 @ 7:51pm

    Re: Re: At a loss

    Art is still made even in the face of not being able to pay the rent or eating. Exihibit A: any artist.

    I wouldn't put it quite that way. Art is still made even if it doesn't generate any money.

    But if the artist doesn't have anything to eat, he dies.

    We do have a few people who live without any income (sleeping on the streets and eating from trash cans), but they tend not to make a lot of art.

    We have a lot of artists who work low-paying day jobs to support art, but that's different than not having anything to eat or anyplace to live. People who literally put art ahead of survival tend to be crazy.

    Of course, the other popular option is that someone else supports you while you make your art. The common joke:

    "What's a musician without a girlfriend?'

    "Homeless."

     

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  54.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2010 @ 11:11am

    Re:

    So adorable!

     

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  55.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Apr 17th, 2010 @ 11:18pm

    Re: At a loss

    How old are you?


    What does that have to do with anything?

    You're clearly biased toward particular models in which a tiny, tiny fraction of artists get paid, and against the largely functional one which has been proven to more-or-less "work."

    Yikes. Nothing is further from the truth. The models I explain are ones where MORE musicians are making MORE money than ever before. Arguing otherwise is folly.

    Secondly, the "functional" one is the one that is not working any more. Sure it would be fantastic if it kept working, but it would have been fantastic if horse buggy makers could have kept their jobs too, right? The whole point is that the market is changing, and it's time to change with it. Furthermore, if you actually bothered to understand what's happening, you'd realize there are more opportunities to make more money than ever before.

    You're in favor of artists getting paid just as long as it fits in with your own open-source delusions.

    Huh? No. I'm in favor of artists getting paid however they can. That's it. What I'm not in favor of is people abusing the system to hold back the creativity of others.

    This does zero to question the incentives of copyright. Even in flush times for the majors, practically no one struck it rich.

    Wow. Do you not even realize how your point "B" totally contradicts your point "A"? In "A" you said that the system worked. In point "B" you admit it really didn't work for most.

    So here we are pointing to a system that can and does work for more artists, and suddenly it's not good enough for you?

    If you want artists to have the time and energy to contribute their work to the culture at large, they need to be able to pay their rent and feed themselves.

    Indeed. That's why we explain these models and show so many artists who ARE doing exactly that. They're making a living, whereas if it had been 10 years ago, they'd be out of the music business entirely.

    Why the hatred for folks who have figured it out?

    That's what copyright is achieving for most artists.

    Copyright never did that for most artists. Even you just admitted that.

    Sorry Chris. I can't follow your logic. "The old system didn't work, but we need to keep it because it worked for most artists." Try again.

     

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  56.  
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    catullusrl, Apr 18th, 2010 @ 6:32am

    Beyond parody

    Dear Mike,
    I think you raise some very interesting ideas in this post.May I suggest an experiment? Why don't you sell off all your earthly assets and send me the money? Furthermore why don't you commit to sending me 70 percent of all your future income? This will make you a lot poorer but even more creative.

     

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  57.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2010 @ 10:22am

    Re: Re: The problem is the word "incentive"

    Not entirely true. Exhibit A: any artist.

     

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  58.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2010 @ 10:24am

    Re: Beyond parody

    That's a really uncreative suggestion. Perhaps it's you who needs less money in order to be more creative?

     

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  59.  
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    Dementia (profile), Apr 18th, 2010 @ 10:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: What 'other' models

    If you have fans, and they really want to continue to see/hear/experience more of your creativity, then what you really have are not fans, but patrons. People who are willing to support you. Look at some the groups that Mike has listed, when they "do lunch" with a fan, or sell stuff that they have created/autographed for that particular fan, they are still creating, except now they're creating a relationship with their patrons, not just the nameless face that spends some money on a cd, photograph, or movie.

     

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  60.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 18th, 2010 @ 11:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What 'other' models

    If you have fans, and they really want to continue to see/hear/experience more of your creativity, then what you really have are not fans, but patrons. ... they are still creating, except now they're creating a relationship with their patrons

    I understand the patron business. I've been one and I have also watched the patronage dynamics in sports, music, and art. But the relationship business is different than excelling at sports, music, and art. Not everyone is good at it. And these days, as the relationship business sometimes becomes more important than the art, the people who are good at fan management may make more money than the talented artists who don't do well in social situations.

    And that is perfectly fine. The world changes. I just like to point out that the skills aren't interchangeable. Someone like Amanda Palmer is perfect in today's world because it's the relationships that are more important to her than the music. But for someone who got into music to do music rather than interact with fans, it's sometimes an uncomfortable situation. It's like pulling teeth to get them to respond to fan emails or to post on Twitter, etc. And trying to find someone else to do it for them doesn't always work because they have to pay their fan managers, or they have to give them a percentage, or they have to recruit someone to do it for free (which doesn't always work out well).

    Sometimes it's more lucrative to have a day job that pays well and just to play music to play music than to scramble looking for stuff to do to keep your patrons happy.

    There are a lot of nuances to making it in the art or music business today. They tend not to get discussed on Techdirt, but musicians are discussing these sorts of things amongst themselves, sharing what works and doesn't work.

     

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  61.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 18th, 2010 @ 12:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What 'other' models

    I'll add that what artists and their "teams" need to do is to sit down and decide what they really want to do. If they want to make art/music, then they need to look at what options they might have that give them the most time/flexibility/opportunity to make art/music. What they may find is that a day job that pays well may generate more money in less time than the music/art-related side stuff they are trying to do. The lawyer who gigs every weekend may actually be playing more music than the up-and-coming band that is making t-shirts in their basement to sell to fans to make enough money to make their music.

    There was a career model in the past which said, "Get a major label deal." Now there is a career model that says, "DIY and package your music with magazines or t-shirts or whatever you can get your fans to buy." I'm suggesting that for many an even better model is, "Make your music. Find something to pay your bills." Is that an old model? Why yes it is, but it still makes a lot of sense for most people. The per hour pay for most musicians who aren't salaried musicians is so low that having a non-musician day job makes sense. Think in terms of having a dual career -- the one that pays and the one that you love that doesn't pay.

     

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  62.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 18th, 2010 @ 1:36pm

    The manager as the middle man

    It just occurred to me that while it sometimes makes more sense to get that day job to pay the bills and not worry about making music or art for income, there are reasons why artists are sometimes pushed that direction: managers.

    Awhile back I was asked to get involved in a project looking for corporate sponsors for an artist who was already so wealthy that the artist didn't need the money. I asked the obvious question: "Why?" One of the answers I got was that the artist's manager didn't make any money unless the artist did. In other words, this manager, who presumably is a new member of the team and doesn't share in the artist's previously-earned wealth, needs a current revenue stream to make money for himself. I suppose a way to avoid that problem is if you have enough money, hire a manager for a fixed salary and then the manager doesn't have an incentive to look for projects in order to generate a percentage for himself.

    At any rate, I suspect that in some cases managers are getting their artists involved in projects that generate a revenue stream for themselves rather than encouraging the artists to take day jobs that may be lucrative but don't generate any money for the managers.

     

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  63.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2010 @ 2:10pm

    Just think how much better this article would have been had it not been sponsored...

     

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  64.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Apr 18th, 2010 @ 5:34pm

    Re: Beyond parody

    I think you raise some very interesting ideas in this post.May I suggest an experiment? Why don't you sell off all your earthly assets and send me the money? Furthermore why don't you commit to sending me 70 percent of all your future income? This will make you a lot poorer but even more creative.

    Dear caullusrl,

    May I suggest an experiment? Why don't you try reading the actual post -- such as the parts where I said: "I'm all for artists making money and being able to create more art. It's why I spend so much time discussing business models that work for those artists." and "Again, this is not to say artists should not get paid. I'm very much in favor of business models where artists do get paid."

    Thanks.

     

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  65.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Apr 18th, 2010 @ 5:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What 'other' models

    But for someone who got into music to do music rather than interact with fans, it's sometimes an uncomfortable situation. It's like pulling teeth to get them to respond to fan emails or to post on Twitter, etc.

    You are making yet another really bad assumption: that connecting with fans means responding to emails or posting on Twitter. No one said that. Artists can connect with fans in their own ways.

    Furthermore, something in what you are writing above reads like "well, what if you built a business but you don't want to sell stuff." Well, then you go out of business. Too bad.

    Sometimes it's more lucrative to have a day job that pays well and just to play music to play music than to scramble looking for stuff to do to keep your patrons happy.

    If that's the case, you're doing it wrong. I was just talking to a musician friend, who put it this way: if you're working a day job that has nothing to do with your music, you're wasting time.

    But he, like many of these artists, recognize the single factor that you and I always seem to disagree over: this is not about "scrambling looking for stuff to do to keep your patrons happy." It's about recognizing the fundamental scarcities that are MADE MORE VALUABLE by your music. That's it. It's not complicated, even as you try to tell people it is.

    There are a lot of nuances to making it in the art or music business today. They tend not to get discussed on Techdirt, but musicians are discussing these sorts of things amongst themselves, sharing what works and doesn't work.

    You do realize that we have a big list of rather savvy musicians who read this site, right? Are you honestly suggesting that we're somehow avoiding some important aspect of the business? Suzanne, you have this weird agenda where you seem to want all musicians to just give up making money. I really don't get it.

     

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  66.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 18th, 2010 @ 6:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What 'other' models

    My point is that it is not economically possible for all the people who want to make a living in music to be able to achieve it. There are millions of people recording music. The laws of supply and demand say there aren't enough fans and enough places to play for them all to make a living at this. When every artist/band starts pitching their music and courting fans, the pie gets sliced very thin.

    And it isn't just about talent. There are pop stars who can't sing or play music who are pulling in people at shows. It also isn't just about having an email list or sending out newsletters or using twitter, etc. There are thousands and thousands of people doing that, too.

    My response is that most of these people won't make enough money from music to live on. You keep holding out the promise that they will all be able to do so because it's pretty much achievable for anyone. And all those encouraging words get that many more people putting out music. The music will continue to flow until pretty much everyone does it. That's what those cool iPhone apps are for. You don't need to talent to make something you can upload. And now if you have the right fan management tools, you can go after your audience. No skills at music, but you can make music, and you can sell it. Who wouldn't want to do this? You've painted a very attractive picture that the opportunities are there for everyone.

    Basically your world is that everyone can make it in music. Everyone can copy and modify everything everyone has done. Everyone can find something for fans to buy. Fans have enough money to buy whatever they want. It's quite a nice vision.

     

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  67.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 18th, 2010 @ 6:07pm

    No limits

    Is if fair to say that the Techdirt vision is that everyone who wants to make it in music can make it in music? There are an unlimited number of opportunities and if you want a career in music and make enough to have a mortgage and health insurance and send your kids to college you can do it.

    In fact, there isn't really any need to pursue any other jobs if music is what you want to do because you can do it.

    Is that a fair assessment? And if not, could we get some clarification? Are there any limits these days?

    I will happily quote Techdirt saying that the world has room for an unlimited number of musicians who can make a living at this.

     

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  68.  
    identicon
    Mike, Apr 18th, 2010 @ 9:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What 'other' models

    My point is that it is not economically possible for all the people who want to make a living in music to be able to achieve it.

    A meaningless statement. Of course not everyone can make a living in music. Who would ever claim otherwise?!?

    There are millions of people recording music. The laws of supply and demand say there aren't enough fans and enough places to play for them all to make a living at this. When every artist/band starts pitching their music and courting fans, the pie gets sliced very thin.

    Again, you are setting up some bizarre false bar here. No one has EVER claimed that all musicians can make a living.

    You keep holding out the promise that they will all be able to do so because it's pretty much achievable for anyone.

    I have said no such thing. Ever. In fact, I've EXPLICITLY said the opposite time and time again. I have said that most musicians don't make a living today. But that understanding these economics means that you can do BETTER today than you could otherwise. That doesn't mean, in any way, that everyone is guaranteed a living.

    I'm sort of at a loss as to how you could think I ever said that.

    Basically your world is that everyone can make it in music. Everyone can copy and modify everything everyone has done. Everyone can find something for fans to buy. Fans have enough money to buy whatever they want. It's quite a nice vision.

    You keep saying that. I've NEVER said that at all. I have said that, yes, every artists can find something for fans to buy. That's absolutely true. But that doesn't mean you can make a living doing so.

     

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  69.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Apr 18th, 2010 @ 9:08pm

    Re: No limits

    Is if fair to say that the Techdirt vision is that everyone who wants to make it in music can make it in music?

    No. I've EXPLICITLY said exactly the opposite of that. I'm sort of curious how you've read this site that would make you think such a totally bizarre statement was one that we had made.

    There are an unlimited number of opportunities and if you want a career in music and make enough to have a mortgage and health insurance and send your kids to college you can do it.

    We have said no such thing. We have said that if you understand economics, you can do BETTER than you would otherwise in making money, but that might just mean making $1000 instead of $100 from your music.

    In fact, there isn't really any need to pursue any other jobs if music is what you want to do because you can do it.

    I've said no such thing. Music has always been a tough game to make a living in. The point is that it's now EASIER than before, but by no means have we EVER come anywhere close to saying it's a guarantee. I'm confused as to how you could make that claim.

    Can you point me to a single place where I've said that? Over and over again I've said the opposite: I've said that lots of people won't make a career as a musician because they just can't.

    Is that a fair assessment? And if not, could we get some clarification? Are there any limits these days?

    It's not even remotely a fair assessment. It's about as far off as one could be. It makes me question what you've been reading.

     

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  70.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 18th, 2010 @ 9:51pm

    Re: Re: No limits

    Here's one place where we seem to differ.

    I was just talking to a musician friend, who put it this way: if you're working a day job that has nothing to do with your music, you're wasting time.

    And I have been saying that in fact day jobs are often more lucrative than music-related projects, so if you can make more money in less time doing your day job, do that for income and play music for your creative outlet.

    That's the crux of my comments: You don't have to look for "reasons to buy" to support yourself. If you want to pay your bills, look for what generates the most money in the shortest period of time and gives you the most freedom to be creative. And then be creative. Trying to link your art/music to "reasons to buy" may be quite inefficient, so I am offering the alternative view in discussions like this.

    The very point of this blog post is that people do creative things for reasons other than money. But that's what also makes the music business so tough. There are millions of people who happily make music and give it away. And they will even pay to play gigs (commonly known as pay-to-play). It tends to skew the economics of creative fields.

    I'm doing some research right now on creativity and expertise. The traditional philosophy is that it takes 10,000 hours or 10 years to become an expert. But I also found some research that suggests we can pool our collective experiences and generate a sort of community expertise. We don't have to be individual experts if we have collective expertise. So that means as a group we have a great product, while we are also less dependent on individuals to provide us what we want/need. I think that also means we may end up picking and choosing our music with less regard for those who create it. We have a mass of music to choose from and may end up with just a few songs from 1000s of artists rather than lots of songs from just a few.

     

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  71.  
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    Christopher Joel, Apr 19th, 2010 @ 8:42am

    Sensible copyright

    This article reinforces something I've been trying to get people to see for a while now: a reasonably LIMITED copyright term. Creators get paid for the work they do, but that work doesn't become a retire account for their grandkids.

    Limit copyrights to 25 years and everyone wins. Creators have get a government-backed monopoly on the opportunity to get paid for their work, but the limit insures they will create more - to keep the potential cash flowing. Society gets more art, creators get paid, everybody wins.

     

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  72.  
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    Kate, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 10:21am

    re:

    While understanding what you're referencing and the idea of copyright "promoting the useful arts" I think it has less to do with money as an incentive and more with money as a means of survival, just as with most jobs. A true artist does not create solely to earn, but the problem is if a "starving artist" must spend their time work a day job, that hinders creativity becuase they do not have the time, or even necessarily the energy, to focus on their latest painting, musical piece, movie, play, novel or whatever else. The promise of income is not what inspires the art, but it is what makes it possible for an artist to survive in a way where they can focus their efforts on their art, thereby "promoting" the art.

     

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  73.  
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    Stephen Jarvis, Feb 20th, 2011 @ 7:11pm

    Obviously, you can't and won't be making your own living depending upon copyright.

     

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  74.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Feb 21st, 2011 @ 4:32am

    Re:

    Obviously, you can't and won't be making your own living depending upon copyright.

    I don't. All the content here is public domain.

    What's your point?

     

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