John Degen “weapons down, please”

Check out John Degen’s post yesterday. In it he laments the “inflammatory and inaccurate rhetoric that seems to sprout up and spread like dandelions whenever anybody in power utters the words ‘copyright protection'”. His observations about the rhetoric around DRMs are also insightful. Asking people to tone down the dialog for a while, he asks “can we please put away the revolvers, handcuffs, chains, scary-looking safes, and weird dystopias?”

John also reminds us that a central purpose of  copyright is to enable individuals to decide for themselves how and when they want the product of their creativity to be presented and disseminated to the public. He says:

I’ve been in this discussion for the better part of a decade now, ever since a colleague of mine showed me this cool site called Napster but couldn’t quite explain to me how the musicians were being paid when he downloaded their songs. I’ve heard all the arguments for open content and unrestricted file-sharing. I’ve read Lessig, Doctorow and Geist at great length. I am aware of the theoretical terrain.

I’ve advanced the professional writer’s perspective (aka, my perspective) here, on other blogs, in many comment streams and in the mainstream media. For my sins, I have been accused of all manner of anti-consumer, anti-user, anti-freedom, anti-democracy, anti-humanity thoughts and behaviors. After all that work to protect my rights, and after all that scorn, my central question remains unanswered – if I’m not allowed to decide if, when and/or how my work travels the various digital highways and byways, how am I being protected as a professional artist? Note, my request is not for control over something someone else has or does or wants to make; it’s for confident control over my own work.

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2 thoughts on “John Degen “weapons down, please””

  1. You ask “how am I being protected as a professional artist?” Doesn’t that question presume the type of answer you’re looking for? I mean, if you’re looking for “protection”, then you’re looking for copyright rules… Instead, I would think you would wonder how you can be *compensated*.

    You also say “if I’m not *allowed* to decide…”. I think the issue is more that you are technically/technologically *unable* to decide how your work travels the internet.

    Contrary to what some people say about copyleft community, they mostly do not *start* with the premise that information *ought* to be freely distributable. No, they start with the *recognition* that because of technological realities, technical abilities, and social pressures, digital content simply *IS* freely distributable.

    So with that recognition, the question that people are asking on all sides of the copyright debates is, “Given that I’m UNABLE to decide if, when and/or how my work travels the various digital highways and byways, how am I COMPENSATED as a professional artist?”

    And this, I think, is a very interesting question that needs serious consideration from all sides. But to treat the issue as though legislation will somehow make digital content NOT travel freely is simply not productive.

    Weapons down. I totally agree. But then let’s talk about how to support artists and how to transition the industry into the digital age.

  2. Sandy Crawley says:

    John Degen’s voice of sanity is a welcome one in the midst of prejudiced cant that spills like oil from the bottom of the gulf of Mexico from the “users rights” fanatics’ myopic preoccupations. How’s that for vitriol?

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