"How Shall The Artists Get Paid?" Isn't A Question, It's An Insult

Throughout the debate on sharing culture and knowledge in violation of the copyright monopoly, one question keeps popping up. But it’s not a question as much as an insult to all artistry.

We’ve all heard the objection to sharing culture and knowledge many times – “How will the artists get paid, if you manufacture copies of their creations without paying them?”. This question is delusional on so many levels I’ve lost count.

First, artist that are copied do get paid, only not by a per-copy sale (which you couldn’t sell at all today if the economy worked) but in other ways. I encourage copying of my leadership handbook Swarmwise, for example, because I know the book promotes other avenues of income. The average income for musicians has risen 114% since people started sharing culture online on a large scale, according to a Norwegian study. Other studies agree with this observation.

Second, even if they didn’t get paid, people who share still don’t carry any kind of responsibility for the business models of other entrepreneurs. Because that’s what artists are once they go plinking their guitar in a kitchen to wanting sales: entrepreneurs. Same rules apply to those entrepreneurs as to every other entrepreneur on the planet: nobody owes an entrepreneur a sale, you have to offer something which somebody else wants to buy. Wants. To. Buy. No excuses, nothing deserved, just business.

Third, we don’t live in a planned economy. Nobody is held accountable to the question of where somebody’s next paycheck is going to come from except that very person. In Soviet Russia, you could tell Vladimir Sklyarov that his guitar plinking was highly artistic and that his next paycheck would therefore come from the Bureau of Incomprehensible Arts. But we don’t live in a planned economy, we live in a market economy. Everybody is responsible for their own paycheck – of finding a way to make money by providing value that somebody else wants to pay for. Wants. To. Pay. For. No excuses, nothing deserved.

Fourth, even if this set of entrepreneurs magically deserved money despite not making any sales, control of what people share between them can still not be achieved without dismantling the secrecy of correspondence, monitoring every word communicated – and fundamental liberties always go before anybody’s profits. We never determined what civil liberties we have based on who can profit and who can’t.

But let’s go to the root of the question. It’s not a question, it’s an insult. One that has stuck around for as long as artistry itself, for it implies that artists need or even deserve to get paid. No artists think in these terms. The ones that think in these terms are the parasitic businesspeople middlemen that you find defending the copyright monopoly and then robbing artists and their fans dry, laughing all the way to the bank while exploiting a legal monopoly system ruthlessly: the copyright monopoly.

Meanwhile, among artists, there is one insult that has remained consistent throughout artistry in history, an insult between artists that rips somebody’s artistry apart, that tells somebody they’re not even worthy of calling themselves an artist. That insult is “You’re in it for the money”.

“How shall the artists get paid?”, implying artists won’t play or create otherwise, that they’re doing it for the money (only for the money), is a very serious insult.

There’s a reason “sellout” is a sharply negative word in artistry. Artistry in the very large majority aren’t happy at all when you’re asking them if they’re playing to make money; it’s a grave insult. The frequently-heard notion that you don’t create culture if you’re not paid for it comes from those who exploit artists, and never from artists themselves.

After all, we create not because we can make money off it as individuals, but because of who we are – how we are wired. We have created since we learned to put red paint on the inside of cave walls. We are cultural animals. Culture has always been part of our civilization, rewarded or not.

However, if an artist wants to sell their goods or services and become an entrepreneur, I wish them all the luck and success in the world. But business is business, and there is nothing that entitles an entrepreneur to sales.

This article was previously published at TorrentFreak.

Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. He lives on Alexanderplatz in Berlin, Germany, roasts his own coffee, and as of right now (2019-2020) is taking a little break.


  1. asdf

    True, but already read on TF. I’m bored. What should I do? other than xkcd, /r/privacy, and 9gag, etc.

  2. Klas

    A couple of things on which I disagree:

    1: The argument regarding how they will earn money is based on the idea that money is necessary to produce quality entertainment, which, of course, is a divided issue.
    Also, since the industry is the only real source of this problem and they mostly produce garbage, can’t say I care.
    2: Artists want to make money.
    Granted, what most want is to be heard, however, unless you make a liveable wage on your artistry, it means you have to support yourself some other way, which, of course, is a negative experience.
    3: Artists don’t have to be entreprenours, in fact, in todays market, you skip out on the entreprenourship by signing yourself to a label.
    Then yoy are a product of an entreprenour.
    4: Increased income is hard to measure, except for labels.

    1. Idee

      You might be interested in EU – Directive
      “on collective management of copyright and related rights and multi-territorial licensing
      of rights in musical works for online uses in the internal market ”
      If you skip the last “en” in front of “.pdf” like that
      you can read in mother toung.

      You will not be dissapointed.

  3. David Gerard

    (Wasn’t this article run already?)

    The trouble is that artists are already used to people telling them “stop being such a breadhead”: it’s usually the people who are making the money they aren’t.

    Thus, they will pattern-match your approach to this experience.

    The actual problem is that literally everyone who wants to be is a musician or most other forms of artist these days: we have the technology, it’s cheap. So professional artists are literally in direct competition with amateurs. Even in expensive forms like film. This is good for culture and terrible for artist employment.

    The real problem is the neoliberal synthesis, where everyone who’s getting screwed over is taught to blame each other. But that’s a rather larger problem.

    1. scandinavianpirate

      I think it was run but not on blog but torrentfreak or some other site.

    2. Rick Falkvinge

      (Wasn’t this article run already?)

      Yes, but on TorrentFreak, as noted in the small print at the bottom of the article. I sometimes repost my TorrentFreak columns on my own blog to have for reference on my home field.

    3. harveyed

      “The trouble is that artists are already used to people telling them “stop being such a breadhead”: it’s usually the people who are making the money they aren’t.”

      Yes, that is unfortunate. It is better to say something like “If people see something good they will be willing to pay to get more of it – one way or another.”.

  4. Idee

    What you mean with artist? Everybody is one of his/her kind and we all don’t get paid for the entertainment we give when you read these lines or watch monitoring cams or else. The designer of Stuxnet, the designer of Tails and Tor are artists. The one is bad the one is good but you never know on which side you are. It is only the way you use it even if it is only designed to destroy. There is almost always a beneficial use for human kind. The more the community benefit from your entertainment, the more you get “paid”.
    In former times when we all sat around the campfire
    we told stories about the last hunt
    we draw pictures on a stone wall.
    And we copied the stories and the wall painting technic. There was no payment but a community who helps to survive and get onward.
    The humans in industrialised states don’t need help to physically survive. But after the Aufklärung (enlightenment) it is a struggle to get rid of deadly dullness.

    Every SMS you get,
    every Chat you do
    every fidget of a gadget
    tells “Miss You”

    Hug me bug me
    do it kindly
    do input
    get output

    With a stroke
    entertainment broke

  5. scandinavianpirate

    “for example, because I know the book promotes other avenues of income.”

    Yes. That is important. Maybe you should emphasize “for Me”. To emphasize that it does not necessarily promote other avenues of income for professional publishers. As an artist, getting fans is the most important step. If people love what you do, they will want to pay you (in one way or another) to keep doing similar stuff. Good culture makes you want to have more of it. The important step is to be able to reach out and get those fans. Hobby file sharing does that so EFFing effectively that it caught the publishing businesses totally off hand some 13-15 years ago.

  6. Greg

    This is a crappy article. It is based on false assumptions and is poorly written besides.
    “it implies that artists need or even deserve to get paid. No artists think in these terms. ”
    Really? Have you ever met an artist? I’ve been a musician for 25 years, and how to get paid is the main topic of conversation amongst my friends. We can’t sell recordings anymore, and venues are paying less than ever.
    Wanting to make a living is not the same as selling out. Beethoven only wrote the 9th Symphony because he was commissioned. Louis Armstrong only recorded West End Blues because he wanted to be paid. Are those guys “sell-outs?”
    What an ignorant music-hating fool.

    1. SKT

      You, sir, are not an artist. You are a wannabe entrepreneur.

      I bet the McDonald’s near you is hiring burger flippers.

      1. highks

        @SKT, I assume you happily work for free? Because every work is a kind of art in its own way. So no need to pay you for any kind of work, right?

      2. Desmond

        lol, who the hell are you? Do you even know what an artist is? I can label people too. You are an idiot.

  7. Duffler

    Falkvinge..the man who pisses up your back while telling you it’s raining

    1. Idee

      Are you one of them who sends 6.000 patents each week to US Patent Office? This huge amount is to attack Linux and Open Source, only. This huge number doesn’t contain other patent requests. And the US Patent Office has to decide within 24h weather it is or NOT worth a real patent. It is a paradise for them while the US Patent Office is only paid from those who wants a YES. There is no budget from tax payers this office can count on.
      And with the NSA spionage it is a speed run to request the patent first.

      And now: Tell me how a single artist can retain the patent process at a glance? Artists are forced to obtain a licence before they entertain. And for gods sake let them obtain the proper licence covering their full repertoire. They have to pay beeing an artist.
      In Germany even artists have to pay (GEMA levy) for their own work to entertain people in public. And nowadays not the masses of peopel counts to math the levy but the area the music is heared/the performance is seen; because at christmas time the artists can not count the pedestrians walking by and controll who passed by twice.

      Artists and any other citizen with a good idea can not solve the problem against huge industries and law firms which struggles the development process.

  8. Someone unknown

    Judging by you anger I guess it was a good article.

  9. Atridas


    There are many things wrong in this article. First, some artists are not here for the money, but if they had no money, they wouldn’t record anything.

    I want to make games. I really do want to make games. But first, I need money. And if a game I make generates me no money, then I’ll have to work on something else before I make another game.

    Now, some break from the topic. A game is not a song. Maybe many of you don’t even consider a game as art. I don’t care, I say this because the problems we face are similar (and a game is way more expensive to make, but Ii’ll ignore this for the moment).

    Does all that mean that I am for the copyright monopoly? No, I am agains it. And that is why I am disappointed for this post: it offers no alternatives. It says ‘you make something and get no money? Blame on you’. And that is wrong.

    I know something about economy. I know what is wrong and what is right in a market economy. Monopolies are wrong. There are more activities with bad externalities than there shoud be, and less with goog externalirties. Same goes with ‘public goods’ (those that are not consumed when someone uses them. Songs, programs, videos… It all goes here), thereare not enougth, because people do not get enought compensation for producing them.

    So someone came up with an idea to solve, the ‘public goods’ problem: make a monopoly. But it is wrong. Monopolies are wrong and, in this case, it basically makes a ‘public good’ into a ‘regular good’, losing its great properties. So, monopolies are a bad solution to a problem, but doing nothing, as you suggest is not better, is just wrong in another way.

    I am disappointed.

    1. harveyed

      Fans who share files and don’t buy by the copy have money left to invest in your (future) work if they want more of it. If they like what you’ve done, it should have a value to them that you can keep doing new work. People are free to send money directly to you. Although publishing business parasites in suits will of course go batshit mad if they hear me propose this.

    2. SKT

      “First, some artists are not here for the money, but if they had no money, they wouldn’t record anything.”

      Boo hoo.

      Get a real job.

      1. Googla

        He’s got a job but you SKT doesnt seem to have a life..

      2. highks

        A lot of musicians are working a job or two besides their music because they have to pay the rent and feed their children. And they go through all these troubles just to make music.
        But you wouldn’t understand that I guess, because you obviously have a “real job” (which I assume is in the finance business, ripping off other people. At least that would fit your anti-social attitude)

      3. highks

        A lot of musicians are working a job or two besides their music because they have to pay the rent and feed their children. And they go through all these troubles just to make music.

        But you wouldn’t understand that I guess, because you obviously have a “real job” (which I assume is in the finance business, ripping off other people. At least that would be fitting your misanthropic world view)

  10. Professional Composer

    I can’t even begin to state the fallacies of this …..article.

    I’ll be brief. I’ve toured the world with a house-hold named artist as keyboardist and have toured my own group around the world. I’m not a weekend warrior or a hobbyist. I’ve devoted my life to this path.

    Gigs have decreased in pay because “everyone” is an artist now. Many of these people are content playing for beer and pizza. And while my wife & 2 kids enjoy a nice pie every now and then, beer is not their thing.

    The DAY my album was featured on a national syndicated show, links were immediately posted across the globe for illegal downloads. One person said “this music doesn’t belong to you, it belongs to the world.” Ummmm, if I make 1/3 from album sales because of illegal sharing, how am I supposed to “share with the world” my next release if I don’t have the funds to share it.

    Look, I’m not trying to drive a Mercedes or drink champagne for breakfast. I’m simply trying to feed my family by the craft I’ve honed for 30+ years. And you wanna tell me I don’t deserve to make money?

    Wish you the best but you should really walk in other shoes before pretending to know how to tie them.


    1. LR

      It’s unfortunate that you went into a career in which there was no discernible viability to it. Music has *never* been a career path in which food for your partner and kids was likely to materialise due to your efforts, and you belong to the class of people that Rick mentioned that thinks you somehow deserve money because you chose to make music. It doesn’t work that way. You need to have (‘unique’) marketable skills which produce goods or services for which people will pay money. (I say unique in quotes as it needn’t be entirely different from others, but must satisfy an exclusivity test to a certain degree.)

      “I’m simply trying to feed my family by the craft I’ve honed for 30+ years. And you wanna tell me I don’t deserve to make money?”

      YES. You DO NOT DESERVE to make money. It would be nice if you could at what you want to do, but that’s not how markets work. Your skills/service/product do not satisfy an exclusivity test. The service/product you’re selling, regardless of how you think of it, is not something for which people are willing to give money. Reality will not give way to your stubborn refusal, as you seem to be starting to find out.

      1. rclogic

        People will give money to you if a thief does not offer it cheaper or even free on the black market. I design and build furniture. When the thieves broke into my showroom and stole my work they sold those items on the black market way cheaper than I could make and sell them for in my shop. You see, I must pay for the materials that I use to build my products. You can buy the furniture from me for the price I set, or you can buy it from the thief who stole it from me for a price he sets. The thief can always afford to sell low because the thief has no investment in the product, personal or economic. The argument you use to justify this thievery is flawed: “YES. You DO NOT DESERVE to make money.” , and invalid because: if you like what I made and wanted to buy it from ME then you would, but only IF the thief did not offer to you cheaper.

    2. next_ghost

      > And you wanna tell me I don’t deserve to make money?

      Yes, you don’t deserve to make money. You have to earn it just like everybody else. If selling copies doesn’t work, you need to look for other ways to sell your abilities that will work.

    3. David Gerard

      Pretty much. http://rocknerd.co.uk/2013/09/13/culture-is-not-about-aesthetics-punk-rock-is-now-enforced-by-law/

      The trouble is that the neoliberal synthesis has us fighting each other for scraps from the owners’ tables. This is not a healthy way to run a society.

  11. Sten

    The copyright actually belongs to the composer and writer of the music who created the “work” and not the artist that performs it.
    Hence the issue is not how the “artist” will be paid.

    1. harveyed

      People are free to invest in the composers work also without copyright. Beethoven, and other great composers didn’t need the RIAA or copy rights to finance their work.

      1. Sten

        Hi there Forskargurra, why the different nicks?

        Bethoven´s work was financed by Prince Lobkowitz and Prince Lichnowsky.

        1. harveyed

          “Bethoven´s work was financed by Prince Lobkowitz and Prince Lichnowsky.”

          There you see… even back in those days it was possible to finance creative works by other means than by copyright. 🙂 Today you don’t need 2 princes to do it. Could well be done by some thousand fans.

          I’m sure you use the same nick here as your real life name and on lots on other sites, too, Sten. Or… maybe you don’t 🙂

        2. Anonymous

          Back in those days the only way Bethoven could make money was through commission done by rich people.
          Hence he had to create the work that these three ordered, not the work that he wnated to create.
          Once these three died Bethoven made his living selling composition rights.
          So you are wrong, Bethoven made a living selling composition rights much like artists sell recordings.

        3. Sten

          Back in those days the only way Bethoven could make money was through commission done by rich people.
          Hence he had to create the work that these three ordered, not the work that he wnated to create.
          Once these three died Bethoven made his living selling composition rights.
          So you are wrong, Bethoven made a living selling composition rights much like artists sell recordings.

  12. Tom Jeffries

    Rick, you understand many things, but you do not understand musicians. It takes enormous amounts of time to be a good player, and doing that while working a 40-60 hour job is impossible for most people. Musicians are very concerned about getting paid. How are they going to stay alive, much less raise a family, if they get nothing for their work? And, in the long run, if music does not pay, where is good music going to come from?

    The internet changed everything, and we need to change how artists are rewarded for their efforts. Right now it’s the labels that get the money- they do more harm than file sharers, despite their outcries about file sharing. However, “How Shall The Artists Get Paid?” is by no means an insult, unless you really think that artists should starve.

    Maybe politicians should starve- what would you think about that?

    1. Jungle Dave

      … Like he said, artists don’t _deserve_ money. They’re entepreneurs, and if they fail to sell, sucks to be them. What if the government mandated that everybody had to spend at least $10/month on, say, nyancat pictures from Wal*Mart?

      The Netherlands is a good example of the bloody entitlement mindset gone horribly wrong. Artists get paid monthly, so long as they produce so many pictures, and they wind up getting binned or stored, never to be seen by Joe Public.

      It’s more than about being a great scribe. It’s about selling your talents.

      1. David Gerard

        You really just do not understand artists.

        1. Jungle Dave

          “You really just do not understand artists.”

          That’s an insult, just like “How shall the scribes be paid?” You son, do not understand reality: you do not deserve to be paid for a product you created. You get paid for a service – a service – you provide.

          Listen up, laddie: the whole issue would be moot with mincome, a pet project of the PIEEEE-RAAAAAAAAAAT PAWTY. Then again, the universe still doesn’t owe you anything for doodles/sketches/poems/paens. Otherwise, the universe owes me a bleep load for my unpublished, private art.

    2. harveyed

      If people want to pay the artists, the artists will get paid. If they don’t they may have to suit themselves with what has already been done.

      1. highks

        If you gave people the chance to take goods for free in the supermarket, almost nobody would pay anymore (why should they?).
        Then by your logic, the market has decided that nobody wants to pay for food, therefore it should be free. Then nobody makes food anymore, we all die, end of story 😉

        People don’t want to pay for anything, they’d take anything for free if they could! You wouldn’t be able to finance any business with just the few good hearted people who willingly paid for stuff even if nobody made them!

        1. Googla


  13. Idee

    Don’t be that harsh…everybody’s job gets extinct sooner or later since a robot can do work much better.
    Take a look at these:
    I like the lamp lighter or the telegraph operator “Oh it is you again NSA. I didn’t hear anything new.”
    And there are much more right now:
    It took me only a few minutes to search for those. If i take some more time, there will be an article about artists loosing their jobs, already.

    Since everybody can be an artist, everybody wants to be paid as an artist. This artist can play guitar/instruments or sing or dance or paint or else. And that artist can design beautiful webpages or software or else. Where will you draw the line beeing an artist? Oh wait, there it was…an artist is when he/she has a copyright. Oh wait…i forgot to do the (C) on every pixel i texted…but what if another has already done it?

    It is not a PIRATES fail that artists are not paid. Get rid of the Copyright, get the UBI onward and you and everybody else can do his kind of lifestyle.
    When you compose music/desigen brands/do something new for you, you have to invest huge amount of time to go through all these patents and trollpapers not to infringe any copyright because there are already tons of compositions/brands/innovation in the world.

    And the heck it is awful to work around all these patents to get something new. Wouldn’t it be better to add something to the work of another citizen rather than to reinvent the wheel?

  14. TGN

    This site is full of horsesh*t. The same guy who wants to guarantee everyone a one bedroom apartment and a wage for doing absolutely nothing cannot logically walk around saying that people don’t deserve to get paid for doing what they love. At least they are doing something.

    This whole anti-copyright thing is garbage. We pay for the “refined” good that required energy to make. Don’t steal a farmer’s crop and hand him payment back in the amount of dirt, water, and seeds he started out with. People are making illegal copies, artists are losing revenue. If they aren’t willing to pay for it, they don’t deserve to listen to it.

    1. Idee

      Why don’t you write the “wishing well” words to the labels and brands and the lots of new jobs they created to criminalise citizens?
      This holy “Disney World” gets the payment the artist should get. Why does the man in the middle have to tell the author and the user what the core of negotiation is;
      what the user gets and how he/she can use the property and
      what payment is the author gets while he has done all the work of creation.

      In the world of internet it is time to cancel the job the man in the middle has. We don’t have to be told what we want to say about our businesses.

    2. harveyed

      Yeah you are right, people should at least harass political dissidents for the money they get.

      “People are making illegal copies, artists are losing revenue. ”

      Well.. restaurants will lose money when I cook food tonight. Although that’s not illegal. A local bar will lose money when I hang out with my friends and drink beer at one of our places instead of going there. When I fix my own computer, some IT technitian will get less paid.

      But there is this basic concept of freedom. That people are free to do things even if other people make less money.

      1. Idee

        THAT is a good argument. Thanks!
        I wonder if families have to enlist their work at home in time tables to get social benefits from government.
        I heard of Family Economy/Marketisation and this maybe the thing they speak of.
        When the smart grid technology gets fully started, they can controll our timetables automatically. When a family member writes in the timetable:
        Prepare and doing washing mashine, coffee, toast…
        The electic devices send their activities via “consumption of electricity” to the enterprises which has a obligation to inform government. Internet of Things.

        When you have a care profession you have to document your action while nursing old people at home. The health insurance company pays flat charges to the caretaker only when they have documented each single hand movement.
        Washing hair but not cutting. And the health insurance company tells the caretaker how long this hand movement should last the overlapping time isn’t payed. So caretaker usually don’t talk to old people (even if they will do that) because this extends the time the caretaker need to stay in old peoples homes.

        Sorry for this Off Topic…

      2. Googla

        The comparing of making your own food with ingredients you have prepared bought or grown with the copying of other peoples music by one click isn’t really a very good one.
        Now if you had yourself played sung and recorded the same music that would have been a better comparision.

      3. highks

        That argument only works if you take a guitar and play music for your friends, not if you play a recording that somebody else made with a lot of effort.

    3. next_ghost

      > People are making illegal copies, artists are losing revenue.

      Artists are not losing anything. Artists are simply failing to turn their effort into profit because they’ve chosen the wrong direction for the business part of their work. Doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. If you try the same thing 50 times in a row and fail every single time, it usually means that you should try something different.

      > If they aren’t willing to pay for it, they don’t deserve to listen to it.

      “If you aren’t willing to pay for your oxygen, you don’t deserve to breathe.” How do you like that one?

    4. Jungle Dave

      You’re a bleeping drive-by troll. Yeah, you are. A sodding bleeping freaking drive by troll.

      You know what, you’re right! Give me money, because I just scribbled “**** the gov” on a wall, framed it, and displayed it. YOU OWE ME MONEY, CUZ I JUST WASTED MY TIME ON A VOLUNTARY WORK OF LOVE!


      Falkvinge wants to make it so you _can’t_ fail. In other words, you’re free to pursue your dreams. And guess what? He’s damn right. A town in Manitoba, Canada, tried it. The result? Unemployment fell. New businesses started. People did what they loved, and made even more money (MORE TAX REVENUE, YEAH!).

      And in reality, when somebody “torrents” a file, they’re manufacturing it from many disparate parts, using a hashsum as a blueprint. Manufacturing. Should I pay a housing corporation if I build my own damn house, based off a sketch of something I saw? Nope.

      When you “buy” music, you’re not paying for a refined product. You’re paying for a curated service. Completely different. There’s no difference between “professional” music by Justin Bieber or “amateur” music, apart from that a label decided to curate. His music isn’t any better than stuff plunked out by a few buddies in a garage.

      _______ _____ ____ _ _
      |__ __| __ / __ | | | |
      | | | |__) | | | | | | |
      | | | _ /| | | | | | |
      | | | | | |__| | |____| |____
      |_| |_| _\____/|______|______|

      1. Idee

        May I ask you to provide me/us with a link to the information Manitoba, Canada, please? I can’t find the information you rely to.

        1. google is your friend

          Dauphin, Manitoba

  15. Ian Farquhar

    I think you’re absolutely right here, Rick.

    Our modern economies have many problems, but in my opinion, the biggest of these is the preponderance of “rent seeking” organizations, whose whole purpose is to extract a profit because they have monoplized the supply chain in some part of the economy.

    To be clear: I use the word “economy” here to mean more than the money economy. I also mean the cultural economy, the political economy, and any other economy you care to name. Media companies use copyright to monopolize our culture and the sources of our news, banks use their gifted power to create credit to monpolize credit markets, large retailers screw farmers and small producers into bankruptcy so they can sell milk for $1 a litre.

    Sometimes these organizations have done good things in the past, and in small parts of their business they may continue to do good things, but the rest of the organization is atrophied and believes everyone owes it a profit, without even pausing to ask just “why?!” They also see no issue whatsoever in destroying others to maintain their comfortable position. In fact, that’s standard operating procedure for most of these companies.

    In an Australian context, let me name Woolworths, Telstra and all of the “four pillars banks” as typical examples this sort of economic rent seeker.

    The problem goes wider than copyright: these organizations are a cancer in all of the societies they operate in. Many have become so large that they believe themselves to be above the control of individual governments (look at Rupert Murdoch’s disgusting behavior in the Australian Federal Election, where he openly indicated an intention to pervert the democratic process.)

    As a world society, we need to rethink the effect of rent seeking organizations of any size. The forced devolution of large companies which exercise far too much market power should be introduced, and those who whine about shareholders being affected when companies split, should also ponder that maybe that fear will keep those companies from abusing market power and expanding like a tumor in it’s host.

    1. Tom Jeffries

      Ian, you understand the problems caused by the current copyright law. I’m not sure you understand the problems that artists have. If somebody spends 6 months (or more) writing songs, hiring fellow musicians, hiring a studio and an engineer (or even doing it home at a cost of thousands for equipment and software), how do they get paid for all that effort? I’m not talking about making bazillions, that’s what the record labels want to do. I’m talking about just making rent payments and putting food on the table.

      That’s the problem we need to solve. Shutting down the major labels is, in my opinion, not such a bad idea, but we need to find a way to pay artists for the work they do.

      Or they won’t do it and we’ll be stuck with the crap the major labels put out.

      1. next_ghost

        Look at all those hundreds of jobs that went extinct in the past century. Did anybody ask what those people will do for living when technological progress was rolling over them? I don’t think so. And the job of “recording artist” deserves no better.

        I could point at a dozen different ways for musicians to get paid and we could argue for months whether or not they would actually work. The only way to actually settle this issue is to let the musicians themselves try new ways of making money and prove them in practice. Many musicians are already doing exactly that.

        1. Tom Jeffries

          “the job of “recording artist” deserves no better.”

          So- you would have the next Bach or Beethoven working for the bank? How about the next Michael Jackson or John Lennon or Paul McCartney or Miles Davis?

          You must like the trash the major labels put out.

        2. Idee

          @Tom Jeffries
          No we don’t must like the trash the major labels put out.
          1. “Good ideas you have to copy” not to reinvent to add sth.
          2. Here you are: Musikpiraten e. V.
          Music for free. It is CC Music only,

        3. next_ghost

          @Tom Jeffries: If they lack the imagination to find a way to make money off their music, they will have no other choice.

          And I hate the trash from major labels. Major labels are the greatest obstacle that the new ways of funding music have to overcome. Pirates, on the other hand, are the most efficient marketing machine musicians could ever dream of.

        4. Idee

          Yeah! Artists need freedom to be creativ. I never saw an artist who get his/her work done while s/he was threatened to death.

          Freedom instead of Frightning.

          And it is not ours to frighten any artist. We are peacefully freedom keepers. We look for solutions for everybody’s lifestyle.

        5. Ian Farquhar


          Thanks for your thoughtful reply.

          My response back, specific to the issue of artists being able to find a money source to maintain their ability to create works which enrich society (note my careful use of words here), is that the current distribution system is utterly broken and fundamentally inefficient.

          My point about them is that they are classical examples of rent seeking organizations: by controlling the supply chain through which most people experience culture, and by corrupting the legal process by which artists were meant to be compensated, they are actually IMPEDING the creation of culture in our society.

          I am actually not suggesting shutting down the major labels. Not at all.

          I am suggesting:

          1. That copyright should be rewritten to reflect it’s purpose of enhancing society. For example, one change I would immediately introduce is the loss of copyright should an owner chose to withdraw the work. I see no value in society from an organization which uses copyright to make a work unavailable (“Songs of the South” anyone?) Attempts to do so should result in loss of copyright and entry of the item into the public domain.
          2. “Greenfielding” public domain works to recopyright them (Disney’s big trick) should be carefully controlled, if not banned outright.
          3. That any corporate entity which grows large enough to be able to exercise control over the supply chain of anything – be that culture or retail products – should be forcibly broken up. Yes, this could reduce shareholder value. I really couldn’t care less. This risk will make corporations careful about anti-competitive behavior.
          4. That any attempt by a corporation to apply political influence on the part of a corporation or business (or their proxies) should be made a an offense (I am not saying a criminal one, but it should carry a serious penalty). Democracy should express the opinions of CITIZENS, not corporations.
          5. Corporations law should include a larger set of considerations than short term investor value. The reduction in short term value to pursue a long term goal of value should be an entirely legitimate goal, and should not cause a corporate officer to face the possibility of a shareholder lawsuit.
          6. Ethical requirements should form a part of corporate law. Corporations should not be encouraged to behave like psychopaths, which is how current corporate law forces them to be.
          7. Penalties for corporate misbehavior should be a serious percentage of REVENUES over an extended period, not tiny “hand slap” one-off fines which are a rounding error on their profits. Again, this will encourage serious attention to the changes. The ability for this to be 100% for eternity should be an option in serious cases.

          My point to Rick was that the issues he focuses on around copyright was actually a subset of the largest problem, which is corporate sociopathy, corporate monopolization, and “rent seeking”. I think you need to fix the bigger issue.

          Tom: I agree with what you say. But with respect, you’re also looking at the small picture.

      2. SKT

        “…but we need to find a way to pay artists for the work they do.”

        False. If you want to pay your bills, YOU need to find a way to get paid.

        WE are working to get paid while YOU are feeling entitled to get paid by plunking your guitar (or whatever).

        I like to paint but I don’ demand to get paid for the hours I spent learning to paint or for the time I spend painting. According to you, WE need to find a way for me to get paid for my art.

        1. highks

          Nobody feels entitled to anything here. A musician records an album to be sold. If nobody bought it because it wasn’t good music, bad luck. Then you’re right, the musician has then to change his music or get another job.

          But if everybody gets the album and listens to it, the music obviously is good and should be paid for, because people want to listen to it. This is not saying that everybody who listens for free would also buy the music, that is untrue.
          But if you give people a chance to get a product for free without consequences, most people will take that chance. We are just greedy bastards, all of us!

  16. Socrates

    “Don’t steal a farmer’s crop and hand him payment back in the amount of dirt, water, and seeds he started out with. People are making illegal copies, artists are losing revenue.”

    If the farmer sold a vegetable and the buyer makes copies of it, it is THEFT.
    There exists those that facilitates this copying by selling professional-grade equipment to such buyers.

    1) Everyone that grows a copied vegetable is a criminal.
    2) Everyone that eats a copy of something some ancestor gathered or planted, should loose the right to eat. Especially repeat infringers.
    3) The facilitators are worst, and should receive an appropriate punishment.

    This travesty have gone on for millennia; it is time to make it stop. IP law must trump civil liberties!

    1. Idee

      Why not tell us:
      Everyone having Sex (Try to Copy) and reproduce (Copy her/his DNA) with a partner is a criminal. And don’t try to argument that the Copy is not just a bad one but a new original one while the both origin are not 1:1 on the next copy.
      Hey, with the next copy it is the same it’s only got lost the DNA of the copy protection. The one with the disc-burner looks for the one with the disc. They come together while the new one shell survive.

      When a potato is put beneath earth, it will copy itself multiple times after some time, this is how nature works. You can’t criminalise nature.

      That what you think of was the notice of warning on Germans old paper money:
      “The one who copy or alter notes or the one who gets copied or altered notes and “resell” it will be punished not less but 2 years.”
      This notice vanished after the 3rd release of the paper work “D-Mark”.

  17. Tom

    You talk a lot about Free Market Economics but you forget that in Economic Theory the government still has a role in even the freest of markets : that being the protection of property rights. You’re right that no artists are entitled to sales, but what they should be entitled to as inhabitants of free markets with functional governments is protection of their property. You seem to be confusing the right of consumers to refuse to buy a good, with their right to refuse to pay. It’s not like any pirate is choosing to forego a good, only refusing to pay for it. One is a simple consumer decision, the other is theft.

    1. next_ghost

      > You’re right that no artists are entitled to sales, but what they should be entitled to as inhabitants of free markets with functional governments is protection of their property.

      Artists are of course completely entitled to protection of their property just like anybody else.

      But copyright is *NOT* property. Not in the literal sense and especially not in the legal sense. All the laws around the world define copyright as exclusive rights to *OTHER PEOPLE’S PROPERTY*. As such, copyright is mutually exclusive with ownership of physical property. You can decide which overrides enforcement of the other, but you can never have both at the same time.

    2. Per "wertigon" Ekström

      Sad part about this is, intellectual property, well, isn’t.

      I hope you do not get offended by this analogy, but, I view intellectual property as property in the same way a slave is property. There has to be a damn good justification for such ownership. In the case of slavery, no such justification has materialised, which is why slavery is illegal today.

      I support a reform for less restrictive copyright, because ultimately, no good arguments can be made as to why copyright has to be as restrictive as it is today. This is despite having argued this issue for several years.

      Two main arguments are brought forward, “Artists must get paid” and “The law says I am right so I’m right.” The previous one is a fallacy – artists / authors of a work will get paid for their work, just maybe not through the sales of copies, but perhaps they can be paid directly for their performances instead? How they get paid cannot be written in stone.

      The second one is even easier to refute. If the law said it was your right to, say, rape your wife whenever you chose, does that make it a just law? No, of course not. Just because you are allowed to do a thing, does not automaticly make it justified.

      Therefore I ask all and every pro-copyright to come forth, and tell me, why do your work deserve life+70 years of copyright? It’s not because it deserves it. That’s circular reasoning. It’s not because you must or you won’t get paid. What purpose does copyright fill, and is that purpose still neccessary in the 21st century?

      1. BOFH

        Not to mention that “I’m right because the law says so” is also a fallacy: it’s an appeal to authority combined with an implied appeal to force.

  18. puja

    7 Genuine ways to earn money online
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  19. PirateBob

    Please keep up your good work. I have read a bunch of stuff on this site and it is inspiring.

    I am a member of the PPC and hope to provide a lot of material for the 2015 Canadian Federal Election. This site provides material that is great, but more importantly hope that there are at least a few people in the world that ‘get it’.


  20. bab

    WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS RIDICULOUS GARBAGE. It’s not insulting to ask how artist are going to be able to support themselves without dying of malnutrition you smarmy free-market piece of shit. Your trash is an insult to anyone who actually knows the difference between paint on a wall and CULTURE.

  21. […] L’article “How Shall The Artists Get Paid?” Isn’t A Question, It’s An Insult, qui a servi de base à mon texte Qui insulte les artistes? […]

  22. Qui insulte les artistes? - Blog à part, troisième époque

    […] pas exactement un tendre et un des derniers billets qu’il a publié sur son site, « How Shall The Artists Get Paid? » Isn’t A Question, It’s An Insu…, va sans doute faire grincer plein de […]

  23. Justin

    Excellent points. I would just like to add, that as an “artist” I have spent lots of money on equipment and instruments recorded my own material, and then as an entrepreneur, I went door to door selling my CDs and broken relatively even. I never signed a label because I didn’t want to be exploited, I wanted to be heard. I even pirated my own music to try and get it out there. If ANYONE wants to listen to my music they can go ahead, if anyone wants to play my music somewhere, they can go ahead. If someone wants to use my music to make money, I will invoke my copyright privileges to prevent them, because *that* is what they were intended for. Not to give me absolute control over my creation, but to prevent someone else from profiting from my creative work without my consent. Hmm, profiting from someone’s creative work? like the MPAA and recording labels? YEP. Ultimately, copyright law, which was intended to protect the artists from exploitation, is now ironically invoked as the justification to exploit artists. You might ask, how would an artist make money? Answer, the same way you do, by working (aka giving a concert, going door to door, selling signatures, begging donations etc). But what about copyright law? should we abolish it? Obviously not, that would allow those corporate bastards to exploit artists for profit against their will, so no. It just needs reform. My suggestion is make copyright non transferable and only holdable by the person who originally created it. That would also mean it expires as soon as you die. And I would rename it to profitright instead of copyright so that this confusion doesn’t happen again.

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