Sunday, November 21, 2010

Everything is Free; We're ALL Pirates

I hesitated for a bit as to whether I would write this, then I decided to, but will leave out the names of the people in question I am talking about. If you use your deductive reasoning, you may figure out who I am writing about, but it really isn't one person in particular, though I do have at least one in mind while I am writing this.

The issue is about how with the Internet, especially with YouTube and Facebook that everything creative is now deemed "free". The unfortunate byproduct of this is that artists are no longer getting paid for their efforts, and as a result can no longer make a living on such efforts. While this is ok for someone who is already a multi-millionaire, for those creators who are just squeaking by, now they may have to take a 9-5 job or make drastic cuts to their lifestyle, or both.

While I sympathize with this to a certain point as I am a book writer and really do not want digital copies of my books circulating around for free on the Internet, it is always going to be part of the equation from this point forward for anyone trying to make a living off of creative pursuits. In other words, I know full well that there will always be some wags out there that want to read my books and never have any intentions of purchasing those books. They would rather have it sent to them digitally for free or printed and bound for free and given to them or just do without before any money is even thought of as being exchanged.

I have said this to friends before, but never on my blog, that entertainment as a profitable venture is a 20th century invention. Prior to the 20th century, I suppose a few performers made some money for their efforts, but in general, the prevailing thought about entertainers in general has been that of the court jester or the village idiot or the fool or a minstrel or a member of some traveling show.

George Carlin was the one who made me aware of this theory from his album "Occupation: Foole", wherein he describes his job as one that has its origins of a bored king stating to his court, "Throw the fool out there!" for his own entertainment pleasure.

By the 20th century, people finally figured out a way to monetize such work and as a result, people eventually got paid REAL MONEY for acting, writing, drawing, film-making, distributing, creating, producing, designing, public speaking, performing, singing, sports playing, etc. etc. etc.

Sometimes REALLY BIG MONEY was earned by people like baseball players or Oscar-winning actors or people who drew comic strips that appeared in 2000+ newspapers.

All of this came crashing down when the Internet produced high speeds and was able to digitally send and receive songs, films, drawings, photos, and all sort of copyrighted material at the speed of light to anyone who wanted to view it at anytime. And, if one source took it down, another source put it right back up making it difficult to track down and catch the "pirates".

Right now, at this very moment, one can view in 10-minute segments, "Song of the South" on YouTube, a film that Disney has stated repeatedly that it will never issue onto DVD. Meanwhile, with its easy access, there is no longer a need for the purchase of said unavailable DVD. So, if Disney DOES decide to change its mind, the market share has been lost, except for the most extreme die-hards who want the exclusive packaging and bonus features as well.

This never used to be such an epidemic because prior to this, people would check materials out of the library or listen to things on the radio or TV or trade them with their friends and maybe some would copy them or record them.

Now, it is all SO EASILY AVAILABLE that it isn't even necessary to have an official release and so everyone gets a copy of something for free and NO ONE gets paid. I know of many people under 20 who don't own a single CD or record album because they have everything on their iPod with material downloaded from Limewire or copied from borrowed CDs.

And, we're all guilty of this...including posting videos from YouTube to my Facebook page and/or blog. This basically negates the need to go out and purchase a DVD of said video because I just gave it to you. If you are more curious, you could go to YouTube too to see if there was more. If there isn't, THEN you might seek out a copy at the store or online to purchase.

Can there be something done? Probably not. What's interesting is that we have now entered the "Star Trek" age for real, where one can literally go up to their computer and get information about anything at any time for no cost whatsoever.

So, if you are an artist or some other creative type person, unless you can make personal appearances anywhere, you might as well plan for a back-up 9-5 type job in order to make ends meet, because the money is no longer in the product. Sorry to say.

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