While the Information Age exposes the entertainment industries to "Digital Piracy" it exposes countless artists to "Digital Freedom".
And while corporate executives may be wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth - artists should be dancing in the streets!
"Over the past decade or so, digital piracy has been a major headache for the music industry, the movie industry and the television industry. It has been less so for the book publishing industry. But that may be about to change." - Gabriella Coleman assistant professor in the department of Media, Culture, & Communication at New York University.
Mrs. Colman's article laments the growing state of digital piracy and its financial impact on the music, movie and television INDUSTRIES. Unfortunately, Mrs. Colman has missed the broader picture. This issue of piracy is not (and never has been) between the artist and the audience but rather between the manufacturing/distribution industries and the consumers.
These industries (be they book, music, or video) inserted themselves on the lines of communication between the artist and the audience for the sole purpose of controlling, restricting and thereby profiting from the flow of information and products between the artist and his/her audience.
These corporations grew exceedingly fat by sucking over 80% of the profit from this flow line while contributing little more than packaging. Not to mention the countless artists they have broken on their rack of commerce only to spit them out to die broke and bleeding after they've sucked the life out of them.
It is only these corporations who are howling. Because they see that they are in the process of being bypassed and cut out of the communication and transaction cycle between the originators of the art and its ultimate consumer.
Neither "digital piracy" nor copyright infringement is the real issue here; survival is. But the survival being threatened is not that of the artist; the only survival threatened is that of the fat, blood sucking corporations. The days of the book, movie, and video monopolies over the distribution of art - are over.
The giants are dead and falling, they just haven’t hit the ground yet.
Artists now have the ability to distribute their art directly and instantly to a global audience at virtually zero cost. This ability renders the music, movie and television industries as obsolete as that of the buggy-whip business. This shift in technology removes, in one fell swoop, the only function that these cooperations ever served - namely distribution. Before the digital age it was very costly to distribute a product such as a movie, song, or written story. Hence any artistic product had to be sold in huge quantity to be viable. But all this has changed.
In a blink of an eye the world has gone digital and the Pandora of creativity has been released from the chains of economic bondage.
The production, distribution and exchange of art in all its myriad forms is once again returning to that of a cottage industry, but it will be a digital cottage with an instant global reach. Art in all its forms will become more diverse, while its costs diminish and its speed of production and distribution will become almost instant. Consumers will have greater quantity and quality at lower prices, while artists will have greater creative freedom and net more money from their work.
The only losers in this new "Digital Age" are the corporations. And their cry of "digital piracy" is nothing more than the death knell of a dying breed of "Corporate Piracy" that has sucked the lifeblood of artists for too long.
They are losing because they've become obsolete. The movie, record, and book publishing corporations are no longer needed because their capital is not needed. It no longer requires millions, or even tens of thousands of dollars to create, package and distribute a particular piece of art to an audience.
As the economic model for viability shifts, so must shift the business model for the manufacturing and distribution of these art forms. It is up to the artist to invent the new business model for this Digital Age, this age of Digital Freedom.
The fight over "Digital Piracy" and copyright is not for the benefit of the consumer of art, nor is it for the benefit of the producer of the art, but solely for these corporations - they are fighting to hold onto their meal ticket.
But we (neither artists nor consumers of art) are amused, sympathetic, nor interested.
Digital alchemy has escaped from Pandora's Box - and profits and the very life of these corporations will never be the same.
The old king of corporate profits must die so that the new king of content (the artist) can live.
The King is dead, long live the King!
Richard A. McCullough
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