Say That Again

by Mike Masnick




Copyright Only Good For The Middlemen

from the more-good-points dept

It seems that more people are realizing many of the problems with our current intellectual property system. Here's an opinion piece from Australia saying that copyrights distort the market and are unnecessary. The writer points out all of the writers, musicians, and artists who produced works prior to the idea of intellectual property (Shakespeare, Beethoven, and da Vinci, for example) and how many of them created their great works by building on the works of others. Then, he makes the really important point that, despite everything you hear from the various "industries" most artists do not make money from royalties on their copyrights. "A very, very small proportion of artists make money from royalties. Most writers and musicians and painters - and software developers - are paid by the hour or by the project." The counter argument, of course, is that without copyright, the people who pay these artists won't bother to any more - but that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of business models that don't involve relying on intellectual property. What's really at issue here, is that digital content removes the need for the middleman - the distributor - in the content business. The artists can now go directly to the customers, and can create new business models on their own. So, the next time you hear the entertainment industry talk about the need to protect copyright "for the artists", know that they're really just trying to save their increasingly obsolete selves.

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  • identicon
    Mark F, 23 Sep 2003 @ 2:25pm

    Any proof to the claims in this article?

    The author (well maybe not, he could have just copied the text of the article from somebody else) does not provide any information to backup he claim that
    A very, very small proportion of artists make money from royalties. Most writers and musicians and painters - and software developers - are paid by the hour or by the project.
    Firstly I disagree - most authors of books, and scripts are paid royalties or at least aim to write so they get some. Secondly if you remove the copyright protection that the distributers of your works receive then these companies will not even hire to the services of people creating content for fixed payment - there would be no profit to it.
    The author writes:

    Just imagine, if you will, a world without copyright and intellectual property laws. Anybody could copy anything - music, films, software, books - at any time, for any reason, with no penalty and at no cost. What would such a world look like?
    People would still write, just as Goethe and Swift and Racine did when they lived in such a world. People would still paint. People would still write and perform music. We would still enjoy their output - though at lower cost. Payment for performance would become more important. Content would not change, just the business models based on them.

    There would be less output - if people want to produce free content then nothing stops them today. If they would want to get paid for their output then they need copyright protection.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike (profile), 23 Sep 2003 @ 2:36pm

      Re: Any proof to the claims in this article?

      Most authors are paid an advance on royalties, but never make much, if anything, on actual royalties because the sales of the book never add up that far. There are, of course, exceptions.

      As for the argument that there is no profit if there were no copyright, we've argued against that point before. There are other ways to profit off of creative works that don't involve relying on copyright.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        dorpus, 23 Sep 2003 @ 4:34pm

        Re: Any proof to the claims in this article?

        "As for the argument that there is no profit if there were no copyright, we've argued against that point before. There are other ways to profit off of creative works that don't involve relying on copyright."

        You've made a lot of vague statements about services, promotions, or subscriptions. But what if people don't want the strings attached, and just want the content?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Mike (profile), 23 Sep 2003 @ 4:55pm

          Re: Any proof to the claims in this article?

          You've made a lot of vague statements about services, promotions, or subscriptions. But what if people don't want the strings attached, and just want the content?

          Then they get it?

          Which part is hard to understand?

          Here, I'll give you an example. Techdirt is advertising for our Techdirt Corporate Intelligence service. We give the basic content of Techdirt away for free, and use it to attract people to sign up for our service. The vast majority of you don't sign up for the service - but enough do to keep us in business - and that's all that matters.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            dorpus, 23 Sep 2003 @ 8:59pm

            Re: Any proof to the claims in this article?

            "Then they get it? Which part is hard to understand? Here, I'll give you an example. Techdirt is..."

            But, what if people want to make more than some shoestring budget? In a hypothetical alternative universe, the music industry could be run by save-the-starving-babies-in-Africa types with altruistic motives, but in general, artists have just as much ambition for worldly wealth and fame as any other yuppie.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Mike (profile), 23 Sep 2003 @ 9:50pm

              Re: Any proof to the claims in this article?

              Okay, I'd respond to that, but you've stopped making sense again.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                dorpus, 23 Sep 2003 @ 9:56pm

                Re: Any proof to the claims in this article?

                It makes perfect sense. It's just the greed of consumers vs. the greed of artists, so neither side can claim the moral high ground. If artists/music industry can make more money through some legal method, then they will by all means do so.


                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Mark F, 23 Sep 2003 @ 10:26pm

        Re: Any proof to the claims in this article?

        If as the "author" the orginal article suggests nobody has any copyright over what they produce then there is no reason for the the author to get any payment whatsoever. A publisher can simply copy any material they want for other publishers. The cost of the good will fall to zero and so will payments.


        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Mike (profile), 23 Sep 2003 @ 11:39pm

          Re: Any proof to the claims in this article?

          If as the "author" the orginal article suggests nobody has any copyright over what they produce then there is no reason for the the author to get any payment whatsoever. A publisher can simply copy any material they want for other publishers. The cost of the good will fall to zero and so will payments.

          Just like they did with Shakespeare?

          No, other business models can evolve. Why is this so difficult for people to understand. Just because the actual content is free, doesn't mean that there are no business models.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Mark F, 24 Sep 2003 @ 12:40pm

            Re: Any proof to the claims in this article?

            Shakespeare's theatre company (Lord Chamberlain's Men/The King's Men) at The Globe was the only company that had the rights to perform Shakespeare's plays. If as this piece suggests that no copyright exists then every other theatre company could have performed his plays without paying for them. Hence his companies gate would fall and he would make less money. At a certain point no more new plays.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Mike (profile), 24 Sep 2003 @ 1:02pm

              Re: Any proof to the claims in this article?

              Hmm. It's funny because I go and see plays all the time that are being performed elsewhere as well. Yet, I still go see them at the locations I choose because they're known for having better actors, accomodations, whatever.

              There are plenty of ways to make money that don't require relying on copyright.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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