Many of the readers to my blog are creative people of one sort or another. People who have something to say, play or design and are finding the wherewithal to make their own statement with it. The chances are, though, that it’s not their creative output that is feeding them and that the bread on the table arrives by more traditional means. I take my hat off to anyone to whom that doesn’t apply.
Some time ago I heard Mick Jagger being interviewed about the Stones’ longevity and the rewards of phenomenal wealth. Sir Mick was quite pragmatic. He accepted that for centuries artist(e)s of any sort rarely earned much money for their work but he’d been lucky to have worked in what he described as a “golden period of 30 years or so” when musicians like him got paid and paid very well.
He thought the golden days were declining because so much music today is available freely. The consequence for the musician being that earning a living from their trade is going to get tougher, and revert to pre-60’s social and reward norms.
He has a point. Artists through the ages have paid for food and drink with examples of their work. A straight trade in some cases. Didn’t Picasso once pay his restaurant “slate” with a few sketches?
Today, creatives live in a golden age of technology where the WWW offers the opportunity for exposure, for market, even fame, but also the opportunity for plagiarism without recognition or payment. And that’s the dilemma, how do you balance the opportunity of the shop window without having someone steal your work ?
I have only two tracks on my Soundcloud site – both of them not the best recording technique you’ll ever hear. When “Mellow Man” was downloaded by someone I was immediately surprised, pleased, and then just as quickly, worried. What would I do if someone pinched something from the song that was identifiably mine ? How could I prove anything and claim my right to the work? This goes for any original work we produce and post on the web.
I shot to fame (!) and was Freshly Pressed with “Another sandwich related injury” . It has been read, or hit, 9400 times. About 6 months after being FP’d with this we were driving along listening to a comedian on BBC Radio 4 when, in the middle of his routine, he worked in the phrase …another sandwich related injury… and got a laugh.
I jokingly shouted at the radio demanding my royalty cheque but it did make me think. What can I do if someone adapts it for a sketch or something? Does copyright protect us on the Webster ?
I have to admit, I don’t know. I have to do some serious investigation if I find myself in the position of having my work plagiarised. I suspect it’s a complex issue.
The blog, The Trichodist, is the home of artists for an ethical Internet. They keep an eye on such developments in the copyright world and lobby to ensure change in favour of just reward for creative people. I detect that there’s a passionate debate. We might not all be able to contribute to that debate but we should be aware of the issues and the rights we have, and lend our voice when we can. We never know when the fruits of our creativity might find their way into unscrupulous hands.