Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Comentário sobre Meu artigo sobre economia da produção expressiva

What’s wrong with copyright?

October 26th, 2009 · by David Bradley >> 5 Comments

Without copyright protection creative types would not create. That, apparently, is one of the defenses put forward by the likes of the RIAA and the MPAA. These organizations chase after file sharers and attempt to gain millions of dollars of recompense each year from people who swap music and movie torrents. But isn’t this defense simply justification for a whole new industry that could outgrow the music and movie industries themselves?

It’s fairly well documented that many recording artists in the past were offered draconian record company contracts and received little compensation for their creativity compared with the company profit lines. There’s also the almost forgotten fact that decades of music charts were hyped as company A&R staff bought up their label’s records to boost chart placements. There’s also the pricing concept associated with a manufactured music disk and accompanying liner notes and the virtual download version of an “album” and how that somehow should cost the same instore and online.

Brazilian musician Denis Borges Barbosa who recently published a critique of the state of copyright in the world of music, also points out that the prime defense of copyright protecting creativity is a fallacy. In his critique he suggests that we take a look at the plight of composer-musicians stretching back to the Baroque period to see just how ludicrous a claim that is.

Eighteenth century composer Georg Philipp Telemann, for instance, is the most prolific composer in history. A lawyer by training (oh, the irony) he was simultaneously a public servant, a publisher, a concert promoter, a conductor, and a performer, and wrote some 8000 opi. There was no copyright law to protect his works. Likewise, Vivaldi composed over 500 concerti, 43 operas, published 100 opi. Handel (who also started law school) staged 50 of his operas and 23 oratorios. Beethoven produced 849 opi (eight concerti and nine symphonies). Mozart and Bach we incredibly creative and prolific too.

Barbosa suggests that it was the total lack of any copyright protection that made these famous names such workaholics; they had to slave away at their staves simply to keep ahead of the competition. However, by the twentieth century, long after copyright laws had been laid down, the likes of Gershwin and Bernstein received amazing plaudits, awards, and no little reward for much more modest levels of musical output.

Gershwin wrote a mere 19 classical pieces, 35 Broadway shows and contributed to 22 other plays, and seven films, while Bernstein wrote just three symphonies, two operas and five musicals. All amazing stuff, but not the hundreds or thousands of their classical predecessors.

It seems that copyright laws, while protecting vested interests have simply stifled creativity. Looking at the statistics for modern composers Bernstein, Gershwin, and their contemporaries and comparing them with those of just one Telemann or Vivaldi suggests that the public has been massively deprived of the full potential of such composers. A lack of copyright protection may have seen Bernstein et al working even harder and producing an even greater musical legacy.

“The example of the 18th century composers who thrived both in cultural and market terms sheds some doubt on the dogma that without effective copyright the output of symbolic goods would diminish on a significant level,” concludes Barbosa. He suggests that a system that sidesteps intellectual property rights and copyright [Creative Commons, Copyleft, Open Source, for instance] could be more conducive to high levels of creativity.

Of course, such a suggestion would remove the members of the RIAA and MPAA from the equation, leaving the artists and creators with a direct connection to their listening and watching public. Perish the thought that artists might be able to talk direct to their public with no intermediaries to cream off a percentage.

Research Blogging IconDenis Borges Barbosa (2010). On artefacts and middlemen: a musician’s note on the economics of copyright International Journal of Intellectual Property Management, 4 (1/2), 23-44

  • Noam Gagliardi Rabinovich // Oct 26, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    I have to agree. I’m just switched majors from Literature/Writing to physics/biology in part because I was questioning whether I wanted to be a “professional artist.”

    I think the internet is giving rise to a new Renaissance, where artists are once again connected with the audience, and create for the love of art, or for ambition, as opposed to cranking out one mediocre novel after the next so the publisher gets off my ass.

    If Chaucer had a day job, and the time to write one of the most ambitious pieces of poetry in the English language, if Cervantes had a day job, and the same for most of the greatest poets and writers… what’s our excuse?

    And with sites like “bandcamp”, many artists are returning to the donation system (get it for free, pay as much as you like, if you like). And the file format is lossless so sound quality is no excuse either.

    I am still on my journey to becoming a writer (haven’t dropped my creative writing program), but when the day comes that I feel I have something worth publishing… I still haven’t decided if I will go the publisher way. I’d most likely offer the ebook as “pay if you want, and send it to your friends”, and a self-published hard copy aside.

    Self publishing will never bring the sales that a publisher can. But e-books are still a nascent resource, and many authors are getting positive results. Plus, one has 100% control over one’s product.


    I think films is a different business. Movie piracy is wrong because a movie is much bigger than the artists involved. — I studied film for a while, and you learn quickly just how much goes behind a movie. — from catering, to the technical aspect — even a “small” movie involves a team of many professionals who all need to be payed fair salaries. Film is not a “cheap art” like music or literature; film is extremely expensive, and film piracy is stealing, in my eyes.

  • drew3000 // Oct 26, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    I would have to agree with Noam, but even in that he’s changing his major after rethinking life as a “professional artist” is telling, and surely does speak to the idea of a new Renaissance, perhaps one in which people are famous not for days or minutes but by bandwidth. The idea of professional artist in and of itself is changing as are the ideas of professions elsewhere. Perhaps artistry is now becoming that thing that more people can incorporate into their lives, dispersing it more and thus decomodifying it over time.

  • CarlT // Oct 26, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    “I’m just switched majors from Literature/Writing to physics/biology in part because I was questioning whether I wanted to be a “professional artist.””

    But you’re moving to a field with “publish or perish” behavior, and the authors pay the journals to publish the work. Do scientific journals pay authors any royalties?

  • Bill // Oct 27, 2009 at 5:36 am

    Considering the copyright laws exist because Queen Anne was petitioned by publishers who had nothing to publish; a few publishers owned the publishing rights to the books and no one else could publish anything worthwhile; the turnaround to giving the few major corporations the right to own movies, books and music for eternity (or close to it if the copyright is renewed) is strange. If I design and build a chair (or any other product) why can’t I refuse to allow anyone but the buyer to sit in it and why can’t I refuse to allow anyone to look at it to see how it is made? Why must I work for a living while others live off work that may have taken them a few days? I am sick of the greed of the corporations that own the works of artists. They should have no right to hold publishing rights beyond a very limited time! The copyright should be in the hands of the artist and be limited to the time that pays for the effort and offers a reasonable profit.

  • Noam Gagliardi Rabinovich // Oct 28, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    CarlT: In science, publishing is not one’s mean of income. One makes money by working in research (private funded, or public funded), or teaching, consulting, etc. — publishing in peer reviewed journals is simply the way scientists share and improve ideas and discoveries (hence the “peer reviewed” part). Once something is discovered in science, nobody “owns” it (unless we’re talking about something specific like a piece of technology, of course). Einstein didn’t own relativity or the idea of quanta: in fact, as soon as he discovered these ideas, they were already being changed into things he did not agree with at all (quantum theory, and of course the bomb).

    Peer reviewed articles are copyrighted, but the studies themselves may be replicated (and in fact are *supposed to*, in order to make sure that the findings are correct).

    But even this is changing as better online databases for peer reviewed content are being created, and gaining acceptance. It is possible that in the near future journals such as Nature would be a thing of the past.

    Bill, — publishing is a double edged sword: publishers make way more money off of a writer’s work than the artist himself does, even after costs are taken into account. But on the other hand, for now at least, there is *no way* any author can sell even close to as much as he can or reach nearly as wide an audience without the help of a publisher.

    Self publishing is EXTREMELY costly if you want to make any decent sales, and even most of those who do succeed this way eventually turn to big publishers because sales are not even close.

    As far as making money though: when you hear that an author gets a, say, $20 000 advance, what you don’t hear is how much of that goes to agents, lawyers, marketing etc.

    Most authors, even relatively well known authors, have day jobs, or make money through teaching and seminars. The idea of the “professional author” who spends all his day pondering, writes a book every five or so years and owns a house in Europe is a bit of a myth, as it represents probably less than 1% of working authors. There are exceptions, but 90% of published authors don’t make enough money off book sales to pay the rent, and off that small percent who do, they usually have to keep up with a demand of 1 or 2 or more books per year, because you still won’t be living off the sales of 1 book, even if it did OK.

    My point was that this could be the end of the “professional author” altogether, but that that wouldn’t mean that great writing wouldn’t still be produced. Most authors aren’t doing it for the money as it is, so with the advent of e-publishing, they will now be able to reach that mass audience (potentially, at least) without having to turn to big publishers.

1 comment:

AGR Marcas e Patentes said...

Denis eu traduzi este artigo e mostrei a uma amigo músico .... valeu.