by Sam Watson


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Copyright laws are delicate balancing act between the rights of consumers and the rights of producers. On one hand, consumers want to be able to access creative works as cheaply as possible, on the other hand producers want to get paid for their creativity. As an artist, I obviously want to be compensated for the hard work and effort I put in to my creative works. However, I am also a consumer and thus can see why consumers crave easy and cheap access to creative works. As a consumer, there is nothing better than getting something powerful and impressive for little to nothing. As a creator, there is no worse feeling that thinking hours of your hard work have gone to waste.

Copyright issues have become important not only to popular music but increasingly the film, television, publishing, radio, news, journalism, and photography industries. The common struggle is the centrality of copyright and increasing pressure legal structures come under in the marketplace with the advent of digitalization of large amounts of content. In this sense copyright has become truly international challenge.

Traditional producers of media have had their conventional roles supplemented or supplanted by untrained bloggers supposedly naïve film, television, and video makers and musicians who can do as much as anyone else with a few software programs and an ear for what sounds good. As discussed in previous blogs, this 1democratization of art can be a good thing by opening up the creative industries to more people he can get their talents out there more easily and cheaply.

The music industry is the primary example of this modern conundrum. As the article points out, music more than any other area of human creativity relies heavily on procreation an illusion, borrowing an invitation, sampling and intertextual commentary.

According to this weeks reading, statistics indicate that the music industry is in fact growing, with 14% growth in performing revenue in the United Kingdom. By all accounts, the music industry has not slowed but the structure of its earnings has changed. Further statistics indicate that while physical sales of music are down 15% digital sales of music have grown by 24%. Thus there is a common view that the decline of CDs will be balanced out by an increase in sales of digital music.

Metallica even said “whether Metallica is heard on MP3, CD, cassette, vinyl, or by any other format is of no concern to us, as long as it is being obtained by legal means”.

Many music artists these days deliberately release free content to create buzz for their new album. Their theory is: give people something for free once and they will feel more inclined to purchase your actual album when it is released. The advent of sites such as bandcamp have allowed artists a platform to sell their music cheaply to consumers. In some cases, artists will make albums available on their bandcamp for free. In other cases, artists will charge a small fee, say $3-$5, for their work. This is in line with a quote from the reading from Pizzo (2000) who said, when consumers are given an undemanding and seamless method of downloading files “at a price that will discourage piracy and encourage consumption, the whole fight will end right there and then.”

All in all, these platforms have made artists more responsive to consumer demands. Some artists have even allowed consumers to choose their own price that they are willing to pay for the work. The speed and ease with which we can now access artistic content is an overwhelmingly positive thing. While producers of artistic content have struggled with this transition, it is becoming clear that they are adapting. Nevertheless, this area will always be a balancing act between the rights of producers and the rights of consumers.