Friday, 6 August 2004

In which we attempt to demonstrate that we do not just Link, but can also Converse. (And continue to name drop.)

A couple of weeks ago, we sent this article[*] (about advances in technology that now permit one to make an exact copy of a piece of sculpture) around to our long-suffering mailing list, and one of the people who wrote back, our pen-pal, the writer and artist Manjula Padmanabhan (there we go dropping names again), who has been having a spot of bother with a magazine reproducing her work without permission, said
Very cool article! It answers a question that's been popping up in my head from time to time -- how can we cut down the boring features of art?
I have made an occasional dab at sculpting (I think in 3D) but there's always the tedious effort of removing physical matter. I would adore to make just the one piece and have it endlessly copied ... Painters haven't been displaced by photographers. But copyright lawyers are going to have a new level of tension to deal with.
I have been in contact with a young lawyer-to-be who wanted to know what authors felt about piracy -- the drift of his questions suggested that he felt authors get too much for doing something that might as well be in the public domain -- amongst his reference points was epic literature, which belonged to the community at large -- no doubt you see the glaring blind spot in his point of view -- but it was interesting nevertheless to see by how much the law misses the truth of a situation. Anjolie Menon's recent entanglements with an assistant who began knocking off and selling her paintings does throw up a peculiar problem -- she taught him to paint in her style, so she gave him the keys to her kingdom -- but she won't allow him to gain any profit from them!
Curiosities, all.
To which we, scenting blogpost, said:
Tried my hand at sculpture too. And that "tedious effort" sometimes gets a bit much, yes! i think i enjoy additive sculpture more than the subtractive kind.
On Ms Menon - i don't think she's objecting to him using the keys of the kingdom as much as pretending he owns it, so to speak, by passing off his work as hers. Poor lad, i imagine if he were to sign his own name to them, he wouldn't make much of a living.
This whole thing about copyright has occupied much mindspace over the years.
For a musician, some people think that it should perhaps be that recordings should be freely available (and free!), and that they would operate as an introduction to the musician(s), with the income coming in from live concerts. Which, of course, pisses off the music companies no end, because they get cut out of the earnings stream. Writers are the other ones whose work is easily ripped off with modern tech. And i haven't heard of any similar alternative revenue stream suggestions from anyone. As someone who is a gen-oo-ine professional writer, what's your take on it? Things like Creative Commons licenses, such as i have on the blog, they don't solve the issue of being deprived of revenue when one wants to make money of one's work. Do you think the Take One Free, Buy The Rest model would work for writers who want to use the web to market their stuff? As in putting out one free story as an appetiser for a collection that's available free? Or Stephen King's attempt of a chapter-a-time, with a dollar buying you the next, would that work?
The problem there, i think, is that there's still no easy way to stop someone from passing on work they have bought.
And the patient Manjula wrote back:
Ah the trials of being an h'author!! Yep. Well, the logical analog of musicians being paid to do live tours is for authors being paid to do live readings, while their books are available 'free.'
But the problem with both fields of creativity is this: by cutting off revenues to the agencies that make the work available to the public, i.e., the publishing and recording companies, the public is the ultimate loser! Because the publishing/recording companies, working entirely under the impetus of personal gain and greed have nevertheless created a situation where there is more literature and music available to the mass of humanity than ever before.
And you, Gentle Reader, what do you think?

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