I tend to borrow and remix from the thoughts of TechDirt founder Mike Masnick, Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge, science fiction writer Cory Doctorow and cartoonist and Question Copyright founder Nina Paley when thinking about how copyright and patent laws are increasingly obsolete and counter productive not only to our economy but to our freedom as well. However, a recent discussion about International Talk Like a Pirate Day prompted me to write up a, likely incomplete, summary of my thoughts. So here goes:
"It is more complex than the idea that people want to steal from musicians.
We have to keep in mind that the existing music system established a few gatekeepers that were able to capture much of the money we pay for music. The order that people got paid was:
- first the music industry (esp. the big players),
- second the small number of musicians who "made it",
- third a somewhat larger number of musicians who were luckly to get slightly better than minimum wage,
- finally the vast majority made no money at all or did it for the love of playing music.
Now, with the Internet, musicians are able to connect with their fans and ask them to support the music (and musicians) they love directly. Gatekeepers are going away as a result and musicians will be better off.
Will all musicians thrive? No, but more will do better than their processors did.
Will musicians need to look at other ways of getting fans to support them, than buying the music that can be easily copied? Yes. Tours are one means. Using tools like Kickstarter to have fans pay for musicians to create something new is another. Selling the unique and scarce items that musicians can create will be more common: suggesting the background of a song, personal concerts, signed disks, individual frames of music videos are but a few methods that could be tried and often have been tried successfully.
Leading all this is that people like to create, and now more people have the tools and ability to develop the skills they need to create. 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Some of it is a copy, some is remixed, but most of the videos are ones that people create for their friends or to express themselves. For me, a future where more people can create and share is exciting and better than a world of gatekeepers and big name musicians.
Ultimately, the only way we will maintain this old and dying system is to spy on what everyone sends out over the Internet, censor our communications and lock every digital file so that no one can share. That is the world the huge entertainment companies and their mouthpieces such as the RIAA, MPAA and Chamber of Commerce want and it would be a sad, poor world indeed.
I refuse to give up my freedom so that a few gatekeepers and stick-in-the-mud musicians don't have to change and innovate."