“You can’t defend public libraries and oppose file-sharing,” says Rick Falkvinge.
Oh, yes I can, says Roger Green:
[H]e’s wrong, in three specific ways, one of philosophy, and two on the facts.
Falkvinge’s implication through the piece is that “efficiency” is an incontrovertible good; this is incorrect. Generally, checks and balances have an important place in processes, especially when it comes to government. The argument in favor of the renewal of aspects of the USA PATRIOT Act stems largely on the fact that it would be more “efficient” to have all that phone metadata, for which the government can select those presumed terrorist, rather than doing this process more on a case-by-case basis. I’m rooting for inefficiency, thank you.
As the young folks say, THIS. If the outcome involves something being done to me, I want it done as slowly and ineffectively as possible.
More to the point, though, Falkvinge doesn’t seem to understand how libraries work. Libraries BUY books one of their primary expenditures and then LOAN them to other people, exposing them to people who might not have been aware of them. Moreover, authors receive MONEY because libraries purchase works, and an individual copy is generally read, one person at a time (SO inefficient!), by many people.
Rare indeed, though not entirely nonexistent, is the file-sharer who goes primarily for things with which he’s not familiar; most of what’s pirated is the stuff that’s already selling well.
File sharing is essentially a manufacturing process, reproducing products that NO ONE is purchasing. NO money is going into the pockets of the creators. Borrowing from my friend Steve Bissette, file sharing “is thievery and impoverishes creators/authors by reproducing work sans payment. There is no ‘loan’ in file sharing: it is a transfer of property, in a material form (here, place this file on YOUR computer). It proliferates [and, I would add, encourages] copying sans payment VERY different from public libraries.”
I am not here claiming that every last file I’ve ever had on a drive in the last thirty years was acquired with scrupulous attention to whatever EULA may obtain; but there’s a lot to be said for compensating the creators of stuff you actually use. I have stacks of stuff acquired through non-official means, and I’ve discovered that I don’t use any of it on a regular basis. Greater involvement as a result of having written a check? Maybe.
A Taylor Swift quote you’ve seen before:
Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It’s my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is. I hope they don’t underestimate themselves or undervalue their art.
And if they want to give it away, that’s fine too. Most of them, I suspect, don’t want to, except on special occasions.