Artists Aren’t Starving Because of Piracy

Cyberlaw Online Music Tech Stories

In the age of digital media, piracy runs rampant. It is now as easy to share music or a movie as it is to share an idea. With the press of a button, you can share your digital content with 3, 300, or 3 billion people. It’s just that easy.

So in recent years, we’ve been fed all sorts of (dis)information about copyright laws. “Think of the artists” we’re told. If you download music, somewhere there is a poor, struggling artist who can’t feed his kids.

It’s all hogwash, and we’ll use the Socratic method to show why.

Who makes the laws?

a) Congress
b) The President
c) The Tidy Bowl Man
d) Earl

If you guessed A, pat yourself on the back. Congress writes laws. Congress passes laws, and nobody can stop them except for the President (and he can be overruled), or judges (many of whom you know wear leotards under their robes).

Where does Congress come up with laws?

a) They’re smart people, they come up with ideas on their own
b) They listen to the people who elected them, weigh the benefits and consequences carefully, and then write up laws
c) They ask the Tidy Bowl Man
d) They write whatever they are told, assuming the person doing the telling has lots and lots of money

I know you didn’t guess D, because you were too busy snorting milk out your nose after reading answers A and B. You couldn’t see through the tears of hilarity to see that the proper answer is in fact D. But, D it is. And no, that is not just cynicism, I spent 6 months in DC, and you better believe this is exactly how it works.

Who has more money and is better organized?

a) Artists
b) The record/movie/book publishing companies
c) The Tidy Bowl Man

Artists don’t have any money, and if the Tidy Bowl Man did, do you think he’d be living in the crapper? Publishers/Recording Artists/Movie Producers are better organized and do better lobbying. Plus they have all the money they’ve made off the backs of the artists. They are the ones who get members of congress to write the laws. Don’t believe me? Look up the Sony Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. Then look at who lived in Sony Bono’s district.

Who do these producers really care about?

a) Artists
b) Teenagers who like to listen to/watch/ read media
c) No one but themselves

Let’s think of how many millions of artists never really make it because they’ve signed away just about anything they have created, or will create, to get a shot at
‘making it’. Let’s think of the thousands of customers the RIAA has attempted to sue out of existence. That leaves us with C.

There is an entire industry that leeches off the creative talent of legions of artists. The artists, almost without exception, never make it big. Oh sure, there are the Steven Kings, J. K. Rowlings, Beatles, and more who do manage to make it, and make it big. But do you think that these folks build the industry? They are nothing more than the icing on the cake. It is the thousands of authors and musicians who never make it big, who are the bread and butter of the producers. The ones nobody hears about, and so nobody cares about. They write a few songs, write a few books, and 90-95 percent of the earning ends up in the pocket of the publishers. The artists go back to their day jobs, most of the time with no ‘intellectual property’ to show for it. The producers own the copyright and distribution rights.

Intellectual Property laws do nothing for the artists. It is the industry behind them, the ones who wrote the law to begin with, who are making all the money, and keeping mountains of content, culture, and enjoyment from the masses.

These suits are the ‘anti-spock’. The greeds of the few outweigh the enjoyment of the many.

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