Rhea Myers

OnTheCommons.org | Talent & The Commons

OnTheCommons.org | Talent & The Commons

We need to rethink DRM and its role in preserving artistic livelihoods.

Yes. IF DRM works it will prevent artists becoming popular and destroy the lasting publicity value of their recordings. If it doesn’t work it will simply annoy fans. So thinking about it, we need to make sure that DRM doesn’t work, otherwise artistic livelihoods will suffer.

I don’t think that’s the kind of thinking that’s being pleaded for, though.

There is a common fantasy that using the Internet or a Creative Commons licence will magically make you rich and famous just by you releasing a single file. When this fantasy is shown to be just that, people don’t blame their own laziness or naivete, they blame the internet or the licence. Talent (assuming you have it) is only part of the equation of success. It takes damn hard work, a lot of overtime, schmoozing, no small amount of publicity, working the circuit and a good accountant to have even a chance at success. The commons does not offset laziness or naivete, but the media industry does exploit it. Anyone who thinks that copyleft will destroy the recording industry’s ability to make them a millionaire might want to ask a few one-hit wonders what “recover expenses” means in a contract, and how you retrain as an accountant.

The assumption that every artist or musician has special social and economic privileges by virtue of their genius is a Romantic conceit that is exploited by middlemen to -er- exploit artists of whatever talent. And to try to create a kind of copyright gentry with mere listeners and viewers (and artists) as serfs. You need to be able to deal with irony (or at least doublethink) in this area, otherwise you end up pleading for industry cartels against the public in the name of struggling artists.

The commons won’t reward talent any more than copyright does. Deal with it.