Proposed models for the continued production for creative content

Hi Pirate Party Members,

I’m writing a research report on the sustainability of piracy in the new media environment and I’d love to get your opinions on the topic. I’m arguing that the current copyright system is a slow legal construct that fails to acknowledge that piracy has become a normalised practice, however I present the counter-argument that despite its shortcoming however it does provide a support net for artists to be provided royalties and an economic incentive to continue producing creative works

I guess I’d just really like to get your views on if copyright could be reformed/abolished what kind of models you’d propose to ensure that artists are provided compensation for their creativity?

Any answers you could provide me with would be of great help!

Copyright was originally an attempt to balance the rights of the community with that of artists. Over the 20th Century a practice developed where artists sold the rights to their works to publishers, distributors etc who would pay them a cut of what they could make from the works sale. Rights’ holders in the modern context rarely means the artist, it is more likely to mean the studio, network or record label.

Rights holders have used their economic power to extend their ownership over creative works for the life of the artist plus 70 years, which is harmful for the creative community because any time you reference previous artworks, you risk being accused of a copyright violation. This was most obviously demonstrated with the Court case against Men at Work, who were sued for referencing Kookaburra Sits on the Old Gumtree.

We support a more balanced approach to copyright, as outlined in our platform. Artists would still have the ability to commercialise their works through owning the rights, they just could not sue people for non-commercial sharing of the works. The primary way for culture to spread is for it to be shared among friends, and we see file-sharing as just the modern manifestation of this phenomena. Commercial use should continue to attract royalties for 15 years.

We don’t think we should have to provide alternative models for artists to make money, that is the job of entrepreneurs. That said, there are already emerging platforms that are reducing piracy through being more convenient than file-sharing. Platforms like Steam for games, Spotify for music and Netflix for TV and movies show that if a reasonably priced, easy to use platform is provided, people are happy to pay.

I am a musician, so this is an important issue for me. I take another approach to my music where exclusively owned copyright isn’t part of my model. Like most artists I suffer from obscurity rather than piracy. I want people to share my music, I want more people to listen to it and enjoy it and then, hopefully, they will pay to come and see me play it live.

Strongly enforced copyright limits my options to share my music, it puts record labels back in control of distribution of music which means I have to write music to appease record producers rather than fans. There is a good blog-post by Cory Doctorow explaining how this same tension works with books.

Competition is the principle that drives an efficient society.

As every copyrighted work is unique (by definition), there can never be direct competition between individual artistic works. There can only be competition in ‘categories’ of works. eg Different RAP artists can compete with each other for sales, but there will never be another EMINEM (to pick one of the top of my head)

This impossibility of direct competition, combined with traditional business cost sharing methods encourages cartels to form. Piracy is the only competition that exists to the media cartels and the only thing driving innovation in the way they do business. If piracy is stopped the cartels will only get stronger, and art will become more scarce. Providing better competition will reduce piracy, an example of that is netflix.

I think trying to make art more (financially) profitable for individual artists or corporations is the wrong question. We should be asking, how do we make society recognise the flaws of capitalism, and make them more tolerant to people who contribute to society in non-financial ways.

At the end of the day, for art to be valuable to society, it has to be distributed, and copyright is all about limiting distribution, its a broken system.