Monday, December 24, 2007

Morality and IP

David Pogue recently lamented the moral divide of digital rights between the generations. Noticing that his shades of gray style debate goes plunk when it applies to the younger generation. For outright movie download instead of paying for it he managed to get only 2 out of 500 students to say that that is wrong.

Cry me a river!

The laws and morality in people's heads does not include corporations. They aren't people and people do not think of them as people. So, it seems as though information should always be free... but if you want to make a penny on it you can't unless you own the property rights. Seriously, rather than asking them about if they think downloading copyrighted material is acceptable, toss in a question about selling downloaded media and see the objections flow. The only rights to sell the material is reserved for the artists.

As these youngsters age, the media industry is in for a painful shock. In the morality of youth, they are worthless, they are over-glorified dvd-burners. The argument that artists and the makers of entertainment will crumble and die is silly. All the money to be made off such media belongs to the artists and nobody has a right to make money from the artists material without the artists say so. This right completely respected and somebody should figure out a way to make the art pay.

This is actually largely a greater view of artist rights than the current legal rights. Money is only to be made by the owners and so long as no money is changing hands, information is free. This is hardly the nightmare imagined. This is beyond the nightmare imagined by the companies who take the media and sell the media as it stands.

This is certainly no where close to where the law is set up. However, if applied universally it would protect the rights of the artists and completely wreck the media companies whose job is largely to charge 15 dollars for something any teenager can make for 10 cents.

As the law stands, it isn't allowed, but in the moral sense the prohibition against sharing is non-existent (within current youth morality) whereas the prohibition against making money off somebody else's work without the owner getting a fair share is iron-clad. The logic goes something along the lines of, I would not pay for this so I won't pay for this. Either way, they aren't getting my money. If there's any money to be given it doesn't go to "they" it goes to the artists.

Faceless corporations are seen as non-moral agents. Sharing is not viewed as wrong. Profit is viewed as evil, if benefiting non-artist entities. Some people advocate the destruction of the media industries, an end to the MPAA and RIAA, as a sort of freedom movement for the artists. These are the faceless corporations taking money from the artists and from the people. They are the epitome of immoral. They do not let the information be free, they do not share, and they do not give all the money made to the artists.

Unless people realize that the younger generation doesn't consist of immoral information thieves who want to steal albums, movies, and media, but rather have an entirely different moral zeitgeist which differs from the law in critical ways, they are going to fail to properly adapt. I understand that they have the law on their side and have been doing well for a long time. However, as far as the main cash-cow of information distribution... I'm sorry but the next generation is going to start downsizing your industry and outsourcing it all over the world to people who work for free.

If you can find a way to deliver media to people without the corporations and the profits going to the artists. Like Itunes without any bother with DRM and the money going right to the artists. You'd have the core of the market for the next generation. When information is free, selling it isn't much of an industry. However, there's certainly a silver lining... if you rock people will gladly give you money so long as some corporation doesn't take a cut. -- Not sure how you can make money off this new world... unless you're an artist, and really... that ain't bad.

No comments: