Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Dean Wesley Smith on "Life After Copyright"

Well said, and well worth reading. "Life After Copyright" by Dean Wesley Smith.
Visit The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site
and WakeWatchWonder.com


At July 07, 2009 10:24 PM , Blogger JS said...

That was laugh-out-loud funny. Seriously, thanks for linking to it. I haven't read anything so ridiculous since the Gor books.

At July 07, 2009 10:53 PM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

I totally disagree, JS. I think Dean is correct and profound here.

At July 07, 2009 11:30 PM , Blogger Wayne said...

Much of what he says is correct, but some of it is overblown.

Television news and newspapers essentially deal in ephemera now. Timeliness is much more important than copyright to them.

Performing artists made money for many years before recording gave them a new way to sell their works. Sure it wasn't a great living, but you can't completely discount the interest people would have in live performance, especially if artists stop recording because there's no longer money in it.

On the other hand, writers would face a much tougher future. Most of the income of writers exists because of copyright. There's very little income to be had performing a novel.

It's not an inviting future he imagines though.

At July 08, 2009 12:29 AM , Blogger JS said...

We'll have to disagree on this, Rob. I think that Dean is guilty of writing bad science-fiction. To borrow some words from your Oryx and Crake review, he's "jumped on a bandwagon that long ago ran out of steam" and presents us with "a selection of old-hat concerns, and fails to give any new twist either in the way in which things might go awry (which at least would have been intriguing) or in how humanity might extricate itself from the problems it has created (which might have been instructive)."

It's an interesting but failed thought experiment. Rather than using the premise as a launching point to examine how our ingenuity would enable us to create a viable post-copyright economy, DWS merely deals in fear, forecasting nothing less than the collapse of democracy and capitalism while proposing that the former cannot exist without the latter, which in turn cannot exist without the full protections accorded by copyright law. I find this to be a weak and unimaginative argument.

If copyright were to collapse surely our societal and economic responses would be far more interesting and rewarding to artists than DWS suggests.

Finally, I nearly did a spit take upon reading that in a post-copyright world, "artists would be painting for fees for the right to own an original work." How is this any different from today? Sure, a few celebrity artists licence prints, t-shirts, books, etc., but most career painters make a comfortable living without ever having to deal with copyright protection issues because, let's face it, what they're selling is exclusivity. And in a copyright-free world such exclusivity would be an even more valuable commodity and this could in turn lead to a rennaissance in painting.

If DWS had bothered to extrapolate along those lines rather than presenting a facile doomsday scenario his piece would have made me think rather than laugh.

At July 08, 2009 11:08 AM , OpenID ogi8745 said...

JP I beleive your missing the point. Does Dean go to far, maybe but the thought is still the same. With no copyright, there is no insentive for anyone to create anything without any protection for finacial gain. With no financial interest how are you going to feed your family.

At July 09, 2009 9:55 PM , Blogger Sean said...

It seems sad to me that artists would stop creating simply because there is no financial gain. Doesn't say a great deal about the importance or worth of art does it?

Then again, I imagine fellow science fiction writer Cory Doctorow would like to have a word with both of you.


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