Copyright Is Not A Welfare System For Musicians

from the please-explain dept

As the battle over copyright term extension is still going on in the UK, the Register has an interview with a former general manager of Motown, talking about how those in favor of extending the length of performance rights screwed up because they had successful musicians like Cliff Richard as the figurehead for the movement, leading people to question why a successful musician needs any more money. Instead, he points out that they should have focused on the studio musicians or less well known players where "500 quid a year to them that's a significant amount of money." Of course, that bases the entire argument on the idea that copyright is some sort of welfare program for content creators. It's not. It's very clearly laid out purpose is simply to put in place the incentives for creation of new content. The content that was created 50 years ago does not need any more incentive to be created. Yes, additional money to these musicians probably would be nice for them, but copyright isn't designed as a system to support musicians. They did this work 50 years ago. They got paid then, and they've been paid for it for 50 years, as the law stated. It was enough incentive for them back then -- and it's one of the few jobs in the world where you get paid for work you did 50 years ago. If we want to create a welfare system for musicians, that's a different discussion -- but don't try to hide a welfare system in copyright.

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  1. icon
    Mike (profile), 26 Jan 2007 @ 11:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    That is very, very true, which I recognize, but I don't think that has any bearing on the discussion we're having. And where are you going with that statement? I'm not quite sure. Stating such a wise statement is nice and all, but I'm not sure why you're saying it, or what point you're trying to make with it.

    Because everything else you say seems to go back to the idea that since content has value, you must attach a price to it. I'm sorry if I misunderstood your position, but without that, your argument falls apart. If you really believe that value and price are separate (as they should be) then the rest of your argument doesn't make sense.

    You are saying that the seller of the content sets the price, and that's only true if value equals price. But, the seller doesn't set the price. The market does. And the market sets the price based on supply and demand, and when supply is infinite, the price is going to be zero. That's just basic economics.

    The main question I ask is why do you, or anyone else, think they have a right to tell someone when they can no longer profit off of something they created due to a passage of time?

    I bring up the chair again, though you dislike the example, it's very relevant.

    I "create" the chair (you said "something they created"). I sell the chair. I'm now done. Why isn't it the same with content? You create the content. You sell the content. You are now done with selling that piece of content.

    But, you want to be able to keep selling it over and over again in perpetuity, which distorts the market.

    For a much more elegant explanation of why your view does not make sense, I'll let Thomas Jefferson explain:

    If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.

    That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property.


    If your so against artists making money after a certain time period then why not just make it one year? Why not one month? What's the magic number you'll use for it? Where do you come up with this number? How is it determined? And lastly, why do you or anyone else care so much what someone makes from their creation after the passage of a certain amount of time?

    I'm afraid that perhaps I haven't been clear. I do not believe artists should not make money. Not at all. I want them to make lots of money, but I want them to do so using the free market, not a gov't granted monopoly. That means learning to sell products that aren't infinitely available, but using their music to promote them.

    However, the purpose of copyright is to secure FOR A LIMITED TIME the monopoly, because the founders recognize the danger in securing infinite ideas for long. It limits the ability of others to learn and grow and create. It limits societies ability to learn and grow and create -- and that's BAD. Your suggestion is one that would LIMIT the creation of new ideas by making it impossible. That's bad for everyone, including the creators you think you're supporting.

    I care because I understand the nature of creation, and the fact that it comes from inspiration and the work of others. And without content in the public domain then no one would be able to create at all, and that would kill society. I prefer society.

    If you don't agree with it you certainly have the right to say so, and so do I. I think we need to let the free market do the pricing for products and services. No one gets hurt, except envious people or people that want something for free.

    If you support the free market setting the price, then why do you insist on a government monopoly? It makes no sense.

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