The queue to get into Parliament last week was a bit long, so long I missed the first presentation at Pictfor’s Consumer’s and Creators in the 21st Century Copyright World, although I did take some good pictures. Saskia Wetzel was the first person on, and it’s a shame I missed it; she was the only speaker designated as a consumer representative.
Mike Holderness spoke on behalf of writers , and Gwen Thomas spoke on behalf of photographers. They both want legally mandated “Moral Rights”, and they both oppose the ageing and maturity of “Orphan Works”. See me here on Orphan works. Interestingly, Holderness attacked the internet industry for illegally creating a comprehensive archive without permission and the photographers also blame hackers, and maybe corporate misbehaviour for the destruction of ownership metadata, and seem to be demanding DRM on photographic meta data. (If you look at my article, or its quoted sources, you’ll see that Lessig amongst others proposes neutral registrars as part of the answer to this issue. I suspect its not acceptable because the proponents want squatters rights, but I have come to the conclusion that the basic problem of orphan works is copyright longevity.)
To me the most interesting speech was by @SimonIndelicate. He made a great speech, passionately claiming ownership of his music, yet recognising all the inspirations and sources. I summarise the speech as follows,
You cannot be a creator alone, all creators are also consumers.
I suggest the conclusion is that you need a weaker copyright, his/their music is part original creation and part inspired work. You can’t write a usable copyright law that works only for creators. I also suggest that this is a replay of Benkler’s argument; in the information/digital economy, information or digital content is both an input and an output. Wealth creation is based on the right/ability to create derived works.
During the Q&A, Simon asked rhetorically,
“Does (the current) copyright (settlement) encourage the creation of more culture?”
His tone of voice made it clear he though the answer was “No”, and I agree with him. Longevity is too long, strictness enforces a non-negotiable tax, lack of formal notice leads to uncertainty. I also reckon that unless Copyright Law has a public benefit other than the personal revenues of creators and monopolists, we have a right to abolish it. It’s a gift, not a right!
In his summing up, he was heckled, and asked why people should access the products of creator’s labour without paying, to which he replied,
“why do you think you should be able to charge more than the market rate?”
Well said! He had articulated the massive explosion in music supply, and let’s face it the supply of photographic images is even more numerous. This stuff is no longer scarce.
The music piece Simon was talking about is available to listen to here on youtube, I’d love a video performance; see how that works… I hear the politics, I listen to the music, the people make themselves real and I want to see the performance.