Sunday, January 22, 2012


Here is a quote from Sunday's Guardian. The speaker is Rick Falkvinge of Sweden, who is one of the moving demons behind internet piracy:

"It's not theft. It's an infringement on a monopoly. If it was theft and it was property, we wouldn't need a copyright law, ordinary property laws would suffice." Nor does he have any truck with the argument that file-sharing hurts art and artists.

"It's just not true. Musicians earn 114% more since the advent of Napster. The average income per artist has risen 66%, with 28% more artists being able to make a living off their hobby. What is true is that there's an obsolete middle market of managers. And in a functioning market, they would just disappear."

But in any case, he says, it's not about the economy or creativity. "What it boils down to is a privileged elite who've had a monopoly on dictating the narrative. And suddenly they're losing it. We're at a point where this old corporate industry thinks that, in order to survive, it has to dismantle freedom of speech."

What it boils down to, rather, is greedy entrepreneurs like himself wanting to increase their own elite positions.

Where do these cockeyed statistics come from? 'Privileged elite' is hardly a term that applies to the majority of writers and artists who have to support their work with day jobs, often negatively affecting their real work. Some creative people find the tension too great, go mad or kill themselves. Perhaps Falkvinge thinks that you can only be called an 'artist' if you are a financial success. And art is a 'hobby'? Evidently he thinks that only making money at the expense of other people is real work.

Ask any writer or artist: creativity is painful, hard, life-consuming. Annie Dillard compared the creative process to setting fire to the end of your own gut and burning it for light.

Mr Falkvinge is an exceedingly rich man. Perhaps he aspires to being Prince of Thieves, but he is no Robin Hood. Is he going to pay for my food? My rent? Perhaps I should send him an application for a grant. In the last few days I have found three sites offering downloads of two of my books. This represents catastrophic losses for me and my nonprofit publishers. Will he make up the lost revenue for the publishers or my missing royalties?

The copyright question most certainly IS about creativity and an economic sector that allows that creativity to survive. Very few writers make any kind of profit at all, myself included, certainly not enough to live on. Long gone are the days of patronage when writers were supported by their publishers to give them space to create. It's strictly hardscrabble now.

I emailed the host of the pirating sites and one of them has so far been taken down.

The biggest puzzle, in the end, is that these thieves have downloaded moral books. Perhaps this is further evidence of what happens when 'spirituality' is hived off from the context of a value system (religion).

As noted earlier, you can meditate to become a better killer.


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