What is “ORIGINAL”?
In our last Blog update, we noted the importance of supporting the “ORIGINAL” artist/creator/etc. I.e., that file-sharing or “pirating” or distributing “copyrighted” content should not bite the hands that feeds them. However …
… things are rarely this “pure”. That is, even the original artist/creator may be one of the “bad guys”. E.g., members of Metallica don’t like file sharers, but they do have some nice songs. So we must (re-coining a popular cliche) separate the message [unit of art, e.g. a song] from its messenger* [artist, e.g. Metallica].
* “Separate the Message from the Messenger” may be re-coined to our discussion (in order of importance) as:
- Art from Artist
- Artist from Publisher
- Specific Publisher from All Publishers
Public reviews and comments are a form of currency!
In fact, YOUR words may be even more valuable than cash. The major Internet players realized this from the very early days of the Net. For example, Amazon will allow anyone (even non-Amazon customers) to write reviews for them. And we all know how valuable these are. And Yahoo Message Boards – which will be two decades old in 2-3 years — have been allowing folks to set up “free” topical message boards … the cost: they run ads next to your words.
These very real facts establishes the important fact that YOUR words are as good (if not better) than gold! The Internet shopping-cart giant Amazon.com would financially collapse within hours if some governing body ruled that reviewers should be compensated for their words.
Ultimately, it’s not that simple: free (public-sourced) reviews do improve the art. And maybe it’s ultimately okay that Amazon or Yahoo provide these “services” if the net results are better books and movies for the indiv. and the general public. That said, what we have today isn’t the old/orig Web/Internet where Amazon and Yahoo started … so, perhaps, we should, in addition, look for alternative, non-commercial or private sites to state (indeed, publish) our important and valuable opinions. E.g., many Netizens have their own blogs (like where you’re at right now!).
You can even generate income from your words … welcome the world of Internet affiliate marketing. Google Adsense (pay-per-click ads that you put on the same blog page as your content — you’ve probably noticed a lot of this already) or even Amazon.com Associate links (e.g., link your review to Amazon’s product page and if the person buys the product or any other product during that session/visit, you get a small cut of profit) … all can get put $$ in your bank.
Bottom line: Your time is valuable: so, at minimum, be a bit more informed/aware about the value of your words/time/effort (check your clock, watch that word-count meter, etc.) … and, hence, be more selective/succinct when leaving reviews at Amazon, IMDB and all the other “Yahoos” !!
Possibly a BETTER way to look at things is not to think in terms of artists or creators [flesh-and-blood persons or groups of persons (organizations)] — because creating art (or other things) that we like (i.e. stuff that enhance and improve our QOL [qual. of life]) is only a small part of that PERSON’s (or GROUP’s, such as in music) total lifetime output**. Rather, we should think in terms of the created (desired-by-us) products themselves: a book, movie, music album, graphic, software, etc. And judge each creation (art, product, etc.) on a case-by-case basis. The Internet/Cloud/WWW universe allows us to do just this: by evaluating and rating/reviewing each work of art separately and individually. E.g., Amazon and IMDB allow one to quickly assign Star or 1-5 grades. And these grades/reviews (especially written reviews) can be as valuable to artists and creators as purchase sales ($). In a way, the ultimate product (art, etc.) is improved and more valuable via crowd-sourcing.
“Professional” reviewers get paid handsomely for reviewing books, movies — along with the wines, microbrew beers, restaurants and cars — for myriad web sites, newspapers and magazines. And they get fringe benefits and profit sharing! Often, though, the public reviews on Amazon or IMDB are just as well-written; they may even be more insightful as there is no commercial bias…and no reason to review because it’s their bread-n-butter. Public reviews tend to be more significant more honest and passionate.
How do we support SPECIFIC desired art objects without necessarily supporting the artist? One way to do is by specifically saying so in your Amazon or IMDB review (or Facebook page, Blog entry, Twitter, cell-phone text message, etc) :
“I borrowed Star Wars: A New Hope (1977 orig . movie) and The Empire Strikes Back (1980 movie) from the library [or a friend lent me her DVDs] and liked them. But easily noticed that in Return of the Jedi (and later Star Wars-universe efforts), it seems George Lucas sold out to market pressures (like toy manufacturers).”
Let’s shift gears to something entirely different: your local Public Library…
This is literally a file-sharing resource. But no one tries to shut them down for “illegal distribution of copyrighted material.” Why? Could it be that with Internet file-sharing, we have the ability to forever keep the content? But you can ALMOST do the same thing at the library by ripping or scanning library-borrowed books/CDs/DVDs. IAC most folks — buyers, borrowers, file-sharers — only watch/read each/any media item — on avg. — once. In essence, most of the books and DVDs folks buy from Wal-Mart or Amazon is only used once — and then it is put on the shelf as a trophy***. Categorically, then, only music and certain software seems to get repeat use.
Perhaps the controversial issue boils down to PERMANENT POSSESSION of copyrighted material (as well as $$, of course). But the definition of “permanent” is vague. After all, many file-sharers or TiVO users delete the TV show/movie after watching once. After all, digital data drives and physical-storage systems (shelves, racks, cases) are not free for anyone.
** That artist may, for example, be a major polluter, driving his big Hummer around needlessly, creating air pollution. Or may endanger others by driving drunk or drugged. So why should one buy their music album or DVD … when we can acquire a file-shared version? Perhaps paying for a file-host service is better for us (individually), our families and our planet.
*** No we have not forgotten the items that are purchased, and/or received as gifts, but never used. They may end up on the same trophy shelf, acting (deliberately or not) as “show-offs”. In a way, then, file-based digital media (residing only on PC, SmartPhone, iPad, iPod) keeps one more “honest” and humble by hiding — to a large extent — the trophy/show-off shelf. This situation may change if VR and “Second Life” type communities/lifestyles popularize to the extent of Facebook or real-life communities. But such an intricate and intertwined digital “interface” STILL seems as far off as it was in 1999′s The Matrix.