It’s been said that the only thing more sacred than a human being sharing their love, is their labor. We agree. Copyright is the institution to protect the innovative artists, musicians, filmmakers, photographers, writers, illustrators and creators of all types. We are thankful for Copyright.
One of the enduring myths that we constantly hear from those who would deny individuals these fundamental protections of their labor is that copyright is an instrument of corporations to exploit artists and creative innovators. Fortunately this myth is not true. It is in fact very much a lie that copyright is for corporations. Copyright is the instrument that protects the individual from exploitation by and from the tyranny of exploitation by corporations.
Copyright is what grants the individual liberty as expressed in the freedom of choice as to who (if anyone) and how the creator allows their work, labor and love to be exploited. Exploitation in this sense is not a bad word, in so far as the creator has the right to determine who, where and how their work is exploited. Without copyright the individual is powerless from such unwanted exploitation, without consent or compensation. This is why copyright, in it’s essence, very much an issue of human and labor rights.
We are thankful for copyright and to all of our representatives and government officials who do so much good work on our behalf to protect the integrity of the individual spirit as expressed in our art.
Those who are against copyright are also fundamentally against personal liberty and aggressively against the pursuit of the freedom of choice. These are the people who wish to exploit artists for their own personal or corporate gain and like to suggest that artists would be better off without copyright. This is simply not true.
There are those who point to democratized services available to musicians such as TuneCore and CDBaby which allow any musician to access distribution such as Itunes, Spotify and others without the need for a record label. We wholehearted support these services as pro-choice for the power of the individual to make the decisions that are important to them.
These services that provide more choices to artist to determine how they choose to exploit their own work are only viable because the individual artist has the choice to use these services and not sign to a traditional record label. Without copyright, the artists ability to make these choices does not exist. The choices would be made for the artist without any ability determine the uses or the compensation for those uses. This would mean more predatory exploitation of artists, not less.
Copyright is Pro-Choice. Anti-Copyright is Anti-Choice, or Pro-Exploitation.
We think few artists would be in support of losing these rights for all the reasons detailed thus far. Opposition to copyright is opposition to individual rights and supports the unchecked corporate exploitation of artists which we have unfortunately witnessed for the past decade plus online.
We hear from many who are outraged by the wrong doings of record labels, and justifiably so. So let us be clear, any wrong doing should be unacceptable be it by record labels, or those exploiting artists online such as the many illegally operating and infringing business such as the pirate bay and others who literally pay artists nothing, not one penny. The logical disconnect that somehow record labels are bad and the illegally and infringing online businesses are good defies any reasonable justification. Unless of course the motivation is not actually the empowerment of artists, but rather the profits of these tech companies.
So lets get the facts straight. Artists have been given the choice of whom they wish to be in business with. Does anyone really think that artists will be better off with less protection of their work? There is no basis in reality for this assertion and as of this writing, over a decade into the digital economy no new robust middle class of professional musicians has been established in the one place where this theory is being tested. The exploitation economy has failed miserably to create a new sustainable professional middle class of musicians.
For those with an axe to grind with major labels and the RIAA please take note of this, without copyright, the record labels who are more powerful than the individual could just as easily take the artists work without compensation. Surely those who advocate for weaker copyright are not suggesting the records labels should be given more power over the artist? The same would be true of television producers and film studios. If these massive corporations were granted weaker copyright, than artists and creators would be subject to unrelenting exploitation. You can not weaken copyright in one area and not others. The true fallacy of the argument for weaker copyright is that in the areas where copyright is well enforced, creators are compensated greater than where copyright is weaker. This is just common sense.
Weakening copyright would not be isolated to just how rights are granted on the internet, but rather, the individual would be catastrophically disenfranchised. Those with power would exploit those with less power, be it by record labels, film studios, television producers or internet technology companies (as we’ve seen). We need to look no farther to the internet to see this already happening where copyright law is hopelessly out of date for the protection of individual freedom and where artists are so hopelessly disenfranchised and under compensated for their work.
Perhaps it is Metallica’s Lars Ulrich who first (and correctly) noted that “If the record labels are not going to get the money, the internet companies are – and if the internet companies are not going to pay artists that is profiting illegally.”
Copyright provides the foundation for each artist to make individual choices about how to leverage their work. So the truth is that every artists who has signed to a record contract has done so of their own free will, and negotiated contracts which have been reviewed lawyers. As a result of this protection of copyright the record labels must compensate the artists in exchange for a grant of rights. On the much of the internet however, there is no grant of rights, no consent and no compensation. This is categorically unacceptable.
In closing we are thankful for copyright in giving us, the innovative artists, writers, authors, photographers, filmmakers and creators the ability to chose a course of individual freedom and liberty that is fundamental to the ideals of good, fair and honest people everywhere.