Graeme Philipson from the Sydney Morning Herald wrote an article titled Copyright distorts the market
A brief extract:
There’s been a lot of coverage lately about music being downloaded from the internet. This has been going on for years but now the Recording Industry Association of America has given the matter a much higher profile by prosecuting individuals and giving great publicity to the fact.
Long-time readers of this column may remember some pieces I wrote on the subject in 2000 and 2001. I made the point then that copyright, and the very idea of intellectual property are comparatively recent phenomena in human history. There is nothing sacrosanct about them, and the ease with which music, or text, or software can now be copied indicates that their days may be numbered.
When I first read it I thought it was an interesting perspective – especially the part about most artists being paid by the hour (or word etc), rather than relying on royalties.
I’m a little sceptical about how true this is. I’d also like to know how an artist is expected to make serious money if not through royalties.
I accompanied a colleague of mine on a trip to buy some cheap DVDs here in Beijing last night. We went to what seemed to be a reputable store, and the had good quality material actually in DVD boxes (unusual for cheap Chinese DVDs !!).
I spent the time looking through the shop thinking to myself about that article I had read earlier in the day – thinking, why do I have a problem with buying cheap DVDs from what seems to be a reputable dealer. For all I know they could be legitimate – in which case I was missing out on an opportunity to buy some good DVDs (they don’t film them with a video camera in the cinema any more).
At the end of the day, I could not guarantee that the material was not pirated, and if I had bought some and brought them back into Australia, I would be breaking the law. Not that I would necessarily have got caught, but it’s the principle of the matter.
I found myself trying to use that article as justification for why buying some cheap DVDs would be okay – but at the end of the day, copyright laws still do exist (in Australia at least), and it would be wrong of me to break them.
So I left without any.
My main excuse is that I’m too fussy about the quality of my DVDs (anyone who considers that VCDs were ever good enough quality to watch has obviously got a crappy TV and never owned a LaserDisc player). I spent a lot of money on my stereo system and TV, I only put good quality material through it to make sure I get the best experience possible. Many of the cheap DVDs are pretty much perfect quality, but that doesn’t change my view.
I have high standards in both my demand for quality, and my demand for honesty and integrity – so I’m not going to compromise them by buying cheap and potentially pirated DVDs.
My colleagues all call me a fool. You get that.
Regardless of the quality or whether you can spin it so the legality is not that much of an issue – and regardless of whether it’s the record industry or the film industry or the publishing industry and not the artists who make all the money – I think it is unethical for as long as artists do rely on royalties from sales.
But then, I think there is a change coming – there has to be. China is a huge market. People will make money here, regardless of how cheap things are, or whether you try and enforce copyright legistlation on them. It’s time to look at a new global business model I think.
LOCATION: Traders Hotel, Beijing, China
LOCAL TIME: 8:13am, Thursday 25th Sept