Kunst der Farbe
Private property is a very important thing, as it is one of the tools that help us, with the market mechanics of offer and demand, to deal with the relative scarcity of material things.
Intellectual property, that is to say, property of reproductible, intangible things (i.e. thoughts, ideas, intellectual works, litterary or musical arrangements of words or notes, etc.) makes no sense.
Ideas are just that, ideas. They are free, in both senses of the word in English. They are the creation’s basis, but are only processed through technique (and sometimes, talent). That can cost money. To develop a new medicine costs litteraly billions in any currency (a situation mostly due to States’ regulations and market distortion, but that’s another story), to write a novel a thousand hours, etc.
So you invested a lot in your creation – years of study and practice to aquire mastership in your domain, so you should be rewarded, isn’t it ? Still nope.
I don’t deny you the right to exploit your creation. My problem is with the monopoly (which in the case of litterary works, can go for seventy years after the death of the author, plus ten years for each time Mickey Mouse is about to drop in the public domain).
Even without taking the economic perspectives in account (“piracy costs billions to Hollywood” or other bullshit statistics), these monopolies have two very deleterious consequences on the society and the market : laziness on the part of the creators, since they have limited competition, and legal bullying of the rest of the competition. A third, much less spectacular, lays in the case of orphan works, which tend to just disappear forever (especially if they are on fragile supports, like microsillon, celluloid or low quality-high acidic paper). On the other hand, Germany and Japan in the end of the XIXth Century and their frantic creative activities are good exemple of what a society devoid of IP protection can offer us.
People using your work without your authorisation is not a problem – you’re still able to play your song, publish your book, distribute your movie. What can be problematic for you, the creator, is the competition with either other artists or parasits. But is that competition that bad ? I won’t speak from a moral position, but in general, it’s quite healthy. Just an exemple : you are in a situation where you have to chose between two concerts. Would you go to watch, I don’t know, Led Zeppelin, or a high-school cover band of Led Zeppelin (a very talented one) – even if Led Zep’s ticket are ten times more expensive than those from Laid Zaip, your local Bishop Kelley HS (go Comets !) cover band from Tulsa, Oklahoma ?
Would it be a catastroph if some toilet paper brand pick a very exquisite song (i.e. Nina Simone’s Feeling Good) ? It would be in poor taste, but it’s quite easy to avoid advertisement these days (first step : kill your TV, second step : install an adblocker in your webbrowser). And there also would be a big difference between the use of the song for a publicity purpose and the approval of the artist (i.e. Nina Simone singing a song about toilet paper for a huge sum of money in a TV ad).
What if someone remix your work and make it better ? Would it mean your work would get more fans ? Would it be an awful situation ? Exposition (included through reproduction) as a value in itself, as is the fact to be original (even if being “the” original is not immediately recognized).
In the pre-Industrial and the Industrial Eras, what costed and created money was the production and distribution of works. Radio-broadcasting or concerts for songs, composition, printing and shipment for books, the building of specific venues for movies, etc.
Today, all this system is obsolete. You don’t need radio to promote your songs. You don’t need studios to make a movie. You don’t need galleries to show the world your paintings, photos, sculptures. You don’t need a publisher to write a book and sell it. All these middlemen can be useful in their own ways, but you just don’t have to go through them anymore.
So, we are going back to an art without market value, to quote the situationnist Michel Bounan. What will it change for most artists/creators ? Nothing. Since two hundred years, creators are exploited by distributors, in a parasitic relation that would like to seem symbiotic. I know a lot of artists, and particulary musicians, and I could tell you tales of how they got raped by their labels and how little their share of the benefits is.
Of course, you have an elite of artists that got huge fortunes from their work. Of course, you have thousands of people in the world that can live on the dividendes of their work. They are not rich, but at least they don’t have to get a menial job to pay the bills. Cue to the 99% others, that will never see their work, as good as it is, produce a single cent. The end of IP would have no consequence for all these people, who will go on with their art because it has a value in itself, just not a mercantile one.
If you want to be a professional artist, all I’m saying is unpleasant. But look ! all is not bleak, even without the protection of a monopolistic rent of situation (which profits anyway to a tiny amount of people, most of them not being creators but mere logistics/marketing people).
There are some ways to make money of your creation, if you’re really good at it.
You can still market and exploit your creation. The bad news is that will probably cost you a lot of money and work (from the lack of economy scales and the necessity to find or create your own market), the good news is that you will be no more depending of a syndication system that will give you back a mere 2-to-5 % of the benefits of your work.
For exemple : your compact discs are selling no more ? Tour. Concerts are very lucrative (even, surprisingly enough, for tiny formations), and are a good way to meet fans and sell merchandising. Are you a writer ? E-books cost almost nothing to produce, and can be sold in huge quantities for a very small fee, providing great benefits. Conferences are the concerts equivalent, etc.
Patronage/sponsorship is also a possibility. Either for a rich person that would get a positive image in exchange of his money, or a lot of poor people that will be happy to be part of the creation (i.e. crowdfunding).
Means of creations and distribution are really democratized today – for the best (the end of the cultural Majors and States’ monopoly on creation) and the worst (youtubers/doctor Who/Harry Potter fanfictions finding their audience).
– I don’t mind the right to exploit intellectual creation ;
– I don’t mind the right to pretend being the inventor of something ;
– intellectual property protection is – maybe counterintuitively – mostly harmful for the creators and the public.
I’m not a pirayatollah, and I’m known to be very pragmatic – I could live with monopolistic commercial IP with a very reduced time (less than seven years).
Sorry about the grammatical errors and some intellectual shortcuts, I can elaborate on some points if you really want it.
Les Enfants terribles
I’ve got new stamps. My favourite is Dada (Dada means nothing), but I quite like Tox 145 (an emergency service for intoxications), the Swiss Navy and the Nestlé.
That exact moment the last episode of It’s always sunny in Philadelphia made me spit my heavily rum-loaded grog on my keyboard.
Bernhard Peter von Rausch, Portrait of two Girls (1830), Joseph Karl Stieler, Portrait of Prince of Reichstadt (1819), Caroline Bardua, Portrait of Prince Adalbert Hohenzollern (1823), and Ferdinand Georg Waldmueller, Portrait of two brothers (1832).
Francesco Furini, Andromeda (circa 1650)
I was going to comment on this painting, but then I remembered I still had the presentation of the artist on my SD Card – and anything else is quite unnecessary. Anyway, I’m kinda worried for Polish contemporary art.
Wanda Golakowska, Flower bowls and containers, cast earthware, turquoise glazing, 1933-1939.
Władysław Jarocki, Self-portrait as a Skier (1909). The posture is kinda gay, but the clothing is on point. National Art Museum of Wrocław.