I have a love-hate relationship with “Liberal Eagle” and the rest of the folks over at bird brains. Long ago, I became a fan of his comic, Ozy and Millie, which I still love to this day, and I generally liked I Drew This as well, which still appears once in a great while on the “bird brains” site which now infests that URL. I say “infests, because it’s a political commentary blog in which he and two others spout off, but don’t allow for reader feedback at all. Sometimes they get it right, sometimes not so much, and sometimes they get it so wrong I want to scream. Today is one of those days. Today, he celebrates an op-ed in the New York Times in which some guy I never heard of “admits” people will be better off if “content providers” are paid. In so doing, he talks about nonsense like “intellectual property”.
There is no such thing as “intellectual property”. There is copyright, there is trademark, and there is patent. “Intellectual property” is a buzz word created by some large corporations that make millions off of other people’s hard work. The buzz word was created for the purposes of clouding the issue, and making a case for calling copyright infringement “theft”.
That’s his first “very wrong” concept. Now on to his second:
“creative people wait for the Web’s new wealth to find a path to their doors”
Yeah. that’s actually his exact words. The problem here isn’t the system, or even that we the consumers are getting stuff for free. The problem is you. Other people have no problem with it. Scott Adams, for example, gives loads of stuff away for free. Arguably he doesn’t need to make any more money, but I think he’d argue otherwise. But let’s take a better example. Howard Tayler is a web cartoonist who earned money by working a day job. He started Schlock Mercenary just for fun, because he wanted to. One day, he decided to take a leap of faith and quit his day job to be a full time cartoonist. Did he do it by suddenly charging for his work? No. He started selling merchandise, though. Publishing book compilations of material that’s available for free on the web. Crazy, right? Well, he’s still self-employed, and keeping his wife and kids fed and happy, and he’s still giving us Schlock for free, bless his heart. And so I gladly fork out cash for every book he publishes, even though I already read it all once. For free. I’ve also commissioned him to do art for me, and he’s sold some originals on Ebay for a pretty penny. And some folks just voluntarily buy him stuff off his wish list for Christmas, or his birthday, or off his wife’s wish list for her birthday. So if you’re putting your stuff out there and “waiting” for the money, you’ve got the wrong idea. Go out and work for it. No, it’s not enough to just create content. You need to put some effort into monetizing it. If you think the solution is to charge people up front, then do that. Frankly, I don’t think you’re good enough to pull it off.
“It never seemed to occur to these people that the quality of art and
literature was inevitably going to plummet if we created a society
where nobody could ever make a living at them.”
It’s occurred to them if they’ve read your blog… Turn comments on, and get some actual feedback from the people who still read you. Don’t make us all talk about you in our own blogs. I mean, it’s not like I get paid for this. 😉