Copyright and economy

There are two arguments often used to protect idea of copyright: it encourages artists to activity and supports new business models of creative sector. Lot of bullshit.  The idea that an artist need to be encouraged to create is total misunderstanding of our natural need to create which, in case of artist, is kind of compulsion he/she cannot reject. So there is no sens to reduce human creativity to economic incentives. They don’t need incentives, although of course they should be payed for their work. But there is no need to provide copyright law for that. Artist were payed for their work before Statute of Ann was signed – and still are (like painters who gain money from selling their pictures without selling copyrights to them or performance artists for shows). IMO state policy should strongly support cultural activity of their citizens –  both artist and non-artist. But copyright law is not about paying, it is about control other than right-holder’s use of cultural content (read:




This argument that artists need to be financially encouraged to create is typical for economic point of view (recently economy made the top of mine enemies list, joining psychology and sociology ’cause of this stupid category of „rationality” that is based on :) ) The idea that all human behavior can be interpreted as „do ut des” is wrong. No matter what is a object of transaction – money, seashells or prestige. I don’t buy simplification of  all social relationships to this functional level. Even exchange is not only about it. We had those discussion in anthropology many years ago. Malinowski and Mauss argued about an institution of a gift. Mauss was right – reciprocity is just a part of the gift-exchange but it enables the realization of many other purposes aimed at the benefit of the whole community. But Malinowski was also right that social behaviors (like gift-exchange) are based on a deep needs of individuals (like sharing) which are expressed in specific frames of a culture. They were writing about Inuis’ and Triobrands’ institutions but their conclusions are more general. We do a lot of things without expecting a reciprocity. Joy, fun, altruism, generosity, ambition, a desire for self-realization (do not forget about ennui!) are equally compelling reasons to take action as the expectation of financial profit.


Copyright is supposed to support artists but in fact it works to their disadvantage. If you are a young artist now it means that people we’ll be able to legally share your work with friends, translate it into other languages or remix it without asking for permission in… 22nd century. And this is much more probable that nobody will know you at that time because of copyright regime lasting  through more then 100 years after work was done.

If we are focused on creative sector – it is a different story than art, this is about lifestyle (design, fashion etc) and pop culture. But even though there is no sense to encourage production if you strongly limit access to the results of that production. So you need to release a lot of copyrighted material, not only as a marketing tool and samples. But copyright doesn’t help you in this, you have to use all your power (=money and lobbying) to sustain  restrictions to access and use of your products. I think that HADOPI is a good example how efficient they are, 1,5 million Euro, one case. So much about rationality and economy :)

Photo: Picture of Bronislaw Malinowski with natives on Trobriand Islands in 1918.Author unknown (maybe Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, link:


One thought on “Copyright and economy

  1. Pingback: Managers of 21st century: break the stick, eat the carrot, let people act autonomously | digital rights gonzo


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