2009/6/26 Lars Albinsson <[log in to unmask]>:
> There are mainly two sides in Sweden; roughly summed up as:
> * Mainly record companies and some artists claim that the creative industry
> is dying because of internet piracy
> * Other artists, many “intellectuals” and IT industry people claim the
> internet offers huge potential for creative businesses and people
As I see it, there are three sides to the "copyfight": The public, the
authors/artists, and the publishers.
Computer networks are built to share data, and the public Internet is
the ultimate publishing system. Trying to prevent the public sharing
data over the Internet is impossible, unless you create an intrusive
Copyright conceptually starts with everything published being in the
public domain. The public then grant authors a limited time monopoly
over some aspects of published works in order to encourage
publication. Authors do not have a natural right to control their
work, this control is granted to them by the public so that the public
may benefit. Note that the phrase "intellectual property" is designed
to confuse this, suggesting that authors have natural rights akin to
physical property rights, and lumping together laws which have almost
nothing in common (patents, copyrights, trademarks, database rights,
attribution rights, etc). That phrase must be avoided to have a
meaningful discussion of the issues it is associated with.
The public used to trade away its natural right to copy published
works to encourage the publication of more works, when it didn't have
widespread copying machines. Now that computer networks are here, the
copyright bargain makes less sense for most of the public, and it
seems they would rather have file sharing - even if this means that
there are less works being published, which can not be assumed,
although it is asserted by publishers.
Generally the political process of western democracies is dominated by
corporate interests, and in this area, by publishing corporations.
Therefore while the actions of the public support p2p file sharing,
their governments have worked to support publishing companies. The
Pirate Party is the end result of this; if the public are
disenfranchised by corporate lobbyists enough about some issue, they
will start political organisation to oppose the lobbyists.
So the question is, can authors/artists continue to make a living
while allowing the public to share complete copies of their works, non
commercially, on P2P networks? Or will the public taking back its
right to share published works mean that great authors stop publishing
new works and do something else?
In 2009 there is plenty of evidence that artists who are independent
of publishers can make plenty of money when they respect their fan's
desire to file share; and indeed, there are examples of authors who
assert they now make MORE money when the full texts of their novels
are posted online.
This leaves little room for publishing companies, since artists are
interfacing directly with the market over the net, and since the most
famous authors and artists are contractually tied to publishers, as
the publishers' ship sinks, those artists who are going down with them
have quite loud voices. However, famous artists are now actively
leaving their publishers (Madonna, Radiohead, etc) and implementing
the kind of mature and sophisticated "direct marketing" to monetise
their works that newer artists who weren't able to get publishing
contracts have been perfecting.
Here in academia, the question is, can academics make a living while
allowing the public to share complete copies of their articles, non
commercially, on the web?
I suggest that they can.