Thursday, December 06, 2007

Laws and Technology: Running to Catch Up

One of my favourite things to randomly repeat to strangers, usually when I'm at the bar is this: "Artists never suffer from people hearing their work." Even struggling artists just emerging from their careers know very well how important it is to get out there. The proof? All the free stuff they do! They do free radio appearances, appear at festivals for free, perform often for less than it costs them to get their equipment/instruments to the venue and if they get enough capital together for t-shirts or other swag, even, gasp, an album, it's invariably sold at a loss. Artists in fact need people to listen, enjoy, discuss, exchange, copy, distribute and re-distribute their work, otherwise they are artists of nothing so much as masturbation.

Open source code? That's based on a little thing the international medical profession calls 'peer review'. It's not mandatory, but it is telling that companies who ask for expert advice and get it for free from other experts because they love what they're doing and are interested and curious and willing to invest thought and innovation because of their passion will make significantly more money and claim more of the market share than their counterparts.

White-knuckled, frothy mouthed company execs however, who play chicken with artists who innovate, who withhold marketing/distribution dollars based on record sales, who refuse to seek advice from experts, whose leather executive seats are in fact stuffed with dead laurel leaves gained by becoming the distribution behemoths they are, are the only beings who will suffer from expert collaborative efforts released to willing audiences. Artists who become well-known for what they do will not suffer from discussion or peer to peer distribution. But there are some 6 figure business people whose backsides may need extra support when the stuffing in their chairs gets thin.

Where the issue is downloads and naughty naughty copying, here's the treat: study after study after study show that people who download most are also the most likely to make purchases.

I'll be writing letters this week.

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