I received this comment from Tim for my post on lala.com – CD Trading For $1:
and let’s just screw the poor artist who made the music why not in this digital age everything is just free isn’t it? but eventually there will be a terrible price to pay and that will be the attenuation of art into the kind of britney spears like realm necessary to generate large enough sales that one can make money from….well, I’ve always bought books at used book stores. But I feel guilty about that and eventually will buy a new book by that author to make up for the way I’ve been screwing him. Well, artists do it for funsies anyway, don’t they? And why shouldn’t everything be free? Certainly all food should be free. And tvs, for real. And computers, or at least web access. In a perfect world, everything would just come to me when I wanted it and go away when I was done and I wouldn’t have to struggle or think about it. Party on people.
It’s interesting to see this comment because I feel I’m one of those artists that he is talking about, but my form is writing and I give my work away for free. While I can understand this point of view, I don’t agree with it. If I write a book and that book is legally sold, would I have a problem if someone gave that book to another person after they finished reading it without any money going to me? Personally I wouldn’t. Now if the book was illegally copied and distributed for free or someone claimed what I wrote to be their own and was making money off my work without my permission, I would probably take issue with it, but not in the above case.
I also disagree that the digital age has hurt artists. It has in fact helped the large majority of them. I can do my writing on my own without the need of a publisher and can earn a living. Musical artists can create their own website, get a following, sell their work directly and make a living where they could not do this before the digital era. That is not to say that it is easy – it still takes a lot of work. The opportunity, however, is open up to a much larger segment of artists than before the Internet existed.
That is not to say there aren’t abuses. They do exist. But I just don’t buy the line that the “poor artists are getting screwed” when a legally purchased CD, book, painting or whatever is traded, resold or given away once the person who purchased it is done with it.