Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fair Copyright?

Over the past few years I have been reading a lot about copyright law and the rather draconian methods that have been employed by businesses masquerading as creators. I have also spoken to many of my friends and colleagues who are producers in various artistic endeavours, and have encountered many different opinions; some disagree with what our government (largely driven, as seemingly is the case in most major issues in Canada, by what is happening in the United States) is up to, while others support it.

I think it is important for content creators to understand all sides of the issue. Most of my friends who support stiffer copyright do so out of fear of their own product being ripped off or plagiarized. This is of course an entirely understandable and logical concern; one which I share myself. Unfortunately, the various aforementioned businesses and industries have muddied the waters to the point where many people confuse laws which promote reasonable self-interest with laws which support business models at the expense of creative artists.

I am not going to try to argue one side over another. After all, many people far more erudite and intelligent than myself have written about these issues. So, rather than try and reinvent the wheel (let's face it, mine would be lopsided and bubblegum flavoured - fun, but hardly useful) I will occasionally post links and summaries to some of the more interesting - or, one might say, categorically insane - examples of how various content-related distribution industries are abusing their powers to the detriment of both the consumer and the artist.

The artistic relationship is between the artist and their audience. Anyone or anything who enters this relationship alters it, and rarely to the advantage of either the artist or the audience. Businesses are about the bottom line. Money. Profit. More, not less. This is an attitude that works wonderfully for the profit margin, but not quite as well for the creative process. When businesses define not only how we can create, but how our audiences can experience our creations, our fundamental, primary relationship with the audience is weakened. Here are a few examples.

#1 - Dumb and Dumbererst

Deep Purple recently played a concert in Russia. The Russian Authors' Society (NGO) fined them $1,000 per song for performing their own songs. NGO did so to protect the copyright holders from unauthorized infringement. Problem is, Deep Purple holds the copyrights. So the fine money will go from Deep Purple ... to Deep Purple. After NGO takes its "administrative fees", naturally.

No comments: