Not Relying On Copyright Doesn't Mean You Don't Make Money
from the sad dept
For centuries, people have enjoyed a shared pool of story, riffing with the same old themes, playing with each others' work. After that and after my Walkman childhood came the Internet, and fun new worlds of mash-ups and sharing, open source and Creative Commons.With such a great opening, why is the article depressing? Because it's followed by the inevitable "but..." And that "but" is that he wants to make money from his writing and the "old industry" relies on copyright, and if he wants to make money he has to play ball with their ways of thinking.
I love it all. Creativity should come from a spirit of communication, maybe cooperation, not the egotistic holding to oneself that copyright suggests. I like musicians to sample each other, and authors to reference each other, and film-makers to pastiche each other. I'm all for intertextuality and a sense of fun and play. I'm pretty much a copyleft sort of guy.
People ask to see what Iíve written and I have little to show them online. I want to be published and broadcast and paid for my work and I fear that sticking things on the net puts that at risk. For example, if I sell a short story to a magazine they will want first rights, and if Iíve put that story on the web already, there is a grey area as to whether that counts as prior publication. I play it safe and put very little of my writing up, in the hope that through conversation I can keep people interested in me anyway, in the hope that a time will come when I can send people off to read a book of mine, or hear my play on the radio.In other words, copyright isn't promoting progress at all here. Instead, it's really doing the opposite, causing this author to hide his works and hope that some old gatekeeper decides to publish it.
This is a much more mild version of an argument we've seen elsewhere. Copyright defenders, for example, like to assume that when folks like myself talk about doing things without copyright, we mean either doing things for no money or through some sort of "charitable" set up. That's simply not true, of course. We talk about all sorts of business models that let people make more money than they could have otherwise -- and we're certainly seeing that happen in the world of writing. We're hearing more and more success stories in the world of self-publishing of ebooks or using platforms like Kickstarter or testing other business models selling additional scarcities.
There are lots of business models that seem to work quite well for people who can and do connect with their fans -- and one of the best ways to connect is to get the actual writing out there and get people hungry for more and more and more. Those who are doing the math (and are fanatical about connecting with fans) are starting to argue that there's a lot more money to be made in going with some new business models -- even for those who can make a lot of money the traditional way.
Compare that to going the old gatekeeper route: you have to deal with a lot of making no money while you deal with rejections. If you get a book deal you may get an advance, but then you're unlikely to ever see much more than that, unless the book is fabulously successful. That's not to say that there aren't still roles for those gatekeepers, but relying on them solely and feeling the need to hide your works away -- especially when you recognize the overall benefit to creativity from sharing and openness -- just seems like a really depressing statement on copyright.