techsploitation: infringement justification
That sentence, and the fact that the article is from Alternet, should tell you right away where this is going.
I only steal from the rich. Once I copied a Mountain Goats CD, because I loved it so much and couldn't find it anywhere. As soon as I did, I bought that CD and about five more by the same band. That was a situation where I was sure the artist, who works through an independent label, would actually get my money. I don't have that same feeling about creators whose work is owned by giant media conglomerates. And frankly, I really don't care if Danny Elfman never sees the money he might have made if I hadn't copied that Oingo Boingo CD. He's rich enough as it is.
Only a person who wants to justify not paying for creative works would think that every musician who is not on an indie label is rich. Sure, the CEOs of the label might be rich, but I doubt very much that a band like The Ataris, who are on Columbia Records (a division of Sony Music) are what the author would define as rich, or someone like Jade Anderson, also on the major label, is rolling in money.
Do I download music? Yes. Once in a while I'll get the itch to hear an old song and I'll open up Kaaza and swipe it from someone. I don't, however, download whole CDs for my listening pleasure because, frankly, there's something creepy about that. Not to mention that I feel a CD is of little use to me without the cover art, the liner notes and whatever else may come with the CD.
I like to pay bands, big or small, for their efforts. They spend the time writing, producing and recording the songs and I pay 15 dollars a pop to say thank you. I would sure hate like hell to put that much effort into my own work and not get paid for it. Why should musicians or software makers or film producers be any different?
The author continues:
When I was a kid, I cried while reading Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, the dystopian novel about a future where books are illegal. I can remember big, hot tears rolling down my face during the scene in which the evil authorities are burning books. Bradbury describes each one as if it were human: Alice from Alice in Wonderland screams in agony; Shakespeare's characters weep as they are reduced to ash. I know it's sentimental of me, but I think of creative works as if they were somehow human, as if they had lives of their own – many lives, playing out in strange, unknowable ways inside each mind that absorbs them. And when I see art and music and writing and movies and TV shows forbidden to me by draconian copyright laws, I don't think about legal documents full of tidy little justifications of property law. I see living beings in chains. I see Mickey Mouse, who has tried to escape again, burned by the lash. I hear Marilyn Monroe, imprisoned by her copyrighted image, howling to get free.
How touching. I weep for her, really. In fact, I pity her. Because she doesn't realize the irony of her statement. Instead of seeing Mickey Mouse chained to draconian laws, she shouuld instead see artists chained to the knowledge that their live's works are being passed around for free and they are getting nothing in return for all that work.
I've never been one for pussyfooting around when it comes to liberating what some corporation or mogul calls "private property." I don't really give a shit about capitalism. I think it's a scam. Rich guys who own everything trade stocks, and the rest of us, who own the vast majority of nothing, watch welfare wither away. If we make something beautiful and try to make a living by selling it, we can't own it. My beautiful thing will be the property of some company that has slapped a cover on it.
So, in her world, everything should be free. Books, records, movies, paintings, they should all be unleashed on the world by their respective artists without a care or concern whether that artist gets paid for his work. The author seems to think of creative arts as one would corn feed in a hippie commune. Share, share, that's fair.
Life is not a communal affair. We don't exist in a world of from each according to his abilities, to each according to their needs. Nor should we. There would be no incentive to work or to create if we thought we were just going to be handed our basic needs by those who are able to do more than us.
Just because one can write or create music does not mean he needs to distribute the results of those talents without expecting to be rewarded in some way. And the artist is not the only person involved in the creative process. There are producers and engineers and typesetters and customer service clerks that need to be paid for their part. It is wholly naive to believe that downloading a CD instead of buying means you are sticking it to the man. In the end you are also sticking it to every man and woman who works behind the scenes to make sure that art gets produced and put out to the public.
I don't care if my file-sharing cripples the economy. I want to rebel against the property holders, the people who took away our beautiful things and called them commodities. Until culture belongs to all of us equally, I will continue to infringe.
Nobody took them away from you, dear. They are still right there, on the shelves in stores, waiting for you to part with a few dollars to purchase them. You may think capitalism is a scam, but it is capitalism that feeds and clothes our children, capitalism that gives you the computer you use to download music, capitalism that makes the world go round.
You work, you get paid, you spend money on commodities. For some people, their work is making those commodities. I'm sure you don't expect to get your clothes or dining room furniture or handbag for free, why should music be any different? Why stop at movies or songs? Why not go out and scream at how unfair it is that you have to pay to read a newspaper or watch a ballet performance?
If only the author of the article would feel as much angst for musicians and other artists as she feels for the crying Alice in Farenheit 451. Obviously she sees Mickey Mouse and other fictional characters as living beings in chains, but she does not see the people behind the music she downloads and the software she cracks as human beings at all. If she did, she would not be justifying stealing from them.
© 2003 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved. Reproduction by Syndication Service only.