About Ophelia Millais
Hello, and thanks for reading my profile. This is the only account I use on Techdirt.
Ophelia Millais is just a pseudonym, of course. It's intended to result in your discovery of a beautiful Pre-Raphaelite painting if you do a web search for that pair of words.
I prefer to remain semi-anonymous, mainly out of paranoia. My posts under this name mainly appear in forums devoted to discussion of copyright issues, and I don't want potential employers and business associates, for example, to hold this fact against me or my friends. Also, I don't like to argue from authority; my posts are simply intended to be reasonable arguments and poignant observations, taken at face value and considered on the basis of their content only. My real-life credentials and reputation aren't relevant.
That said, I'll say a few things so that you know where I'm coming from. I'm a musician, DJ, and photographer. My own music has been released commercially on an indie label, and more recently was self-released with Creative Commons licenses. My photography is also permissively licensed (CC0 or CC-BY), and this directly led to one piece being displayed in a popular museum in Berlin.
Although I'm a "creative professional," my art has never come close to supporting me, save for a few DJ gigs in the '90s. Therefore, I work a day job I enjoy, and it doesn't impede my creativity at all. It never occurred to me to be resentful that I don't live off my art, or that some people don't consider my art worth paying for. I have no sympathy for creators who feel otherwise. I only ever feel gratitude toward those who enjoy my work.
Although I tend to be a skeptic of copyright maximalism, I actually have quite mixed feelings about copyright law, file-sharing, the commercialization of art, and the various kinds of entitlement felt by the various competing interests. Generally, though, I'm idealistic in that I hold the principles of freedom and privacy in high regard; if a choice must be made between the businessman's "freedom to profit" (or the artist's legal rights) and the individual liberty and privacy of consumers and the general public, then consumers and the general public should always come out ahead.
Here are a few of my favorite memes:
• It is a well-kept secret* that most artists have sources of income aside from the royalties they receive based on consumers purchasing new copies of their work. Very few enjoy sustained, lifelong success where they live entirely off of such royalties. Those who do achieve such success often don't maintain it for long, at least not without continually creating new works that capture public interest. Yet so many artists, especially when debating file-sharing and copyright, continue to promulgate the myth that they are part of a class which solely subsists on such royalties, and that making art is and must be a full-time job, or else it will cease to exist. Certainly, for a privileged few, it is a profitable, full-time job, and certainly, some artists are only in it for the money. But that's the exception, not the rule. There is no reason that artists must earn a living wage exclusively from copyright exploitation, or that if they ever do reach that point, that they're entitled to remain in that fortunate state. Most are not in that category, and it's disingenuous to imply otherwise.
• Marketing creative works can be very lucrative, but artists and copyright owners are not entitled to earn a living from their works, nor are they entitled to sustain a particular level of earnings. They can try, of course, but there are no guarantees.
• A creative work's monetary value is not conferred by its price tag, nor by the labor and expense that went into it, nor by public interest in it. Monetary value is what each consumer is willing to pay.
• It's not the consumer's responsibility to choose to spend their money only in ways which are assured of sustaining the businesses of those they buy from.
• Shaming consumers for their spending choices is attacking them, and is a business strategy best left to televangelists and other con artists. Even if you are on the moral high ground, you undermine your cause when you resort to such tactics.
* [I was taken to task for characterizing artists' day jobs as "a well-kept secret". I stand by it, though. Copyright advocates repeatedly insist that artists won't create if they have to go get day jobs "to compete with free" when others are "stealing" their work or whatever, when in fact the reality is that most artists already have day jobs they just keep quiet about, lest anyone realize they aren't suffering and aren't entitled to copyright-based welfare.]