The Artist As Widget
Posted January 19, 2014on:
So I am one of the few oddballs who actually watches C-SPAN. I find it to be a window into a very distant world. But a world whose actions and decisions affect us in ways we only begin to comprehend. And sometimes those decisions have consequences that we, down here on the ground, only feel after it is too late to do anything about it.
In yesterday’s House Sub-committee Hearing on Copyright Regulations and Intellectual Property Law I had a moment of clarity that revealed why, when it comes to legislation about the arts, those mountain-top decision makers so often get it wrong.
The House panel was asking questions of a number of “experts” including Professor Glynn Lunney of Tulane University Law School. The question of the moment had to do with copyright restrictions applied to the music industry that used to exist but that had been recently eliminated. The Professor was asked if the elimination of the copyright laws had any effect on “content producers” (meaning song writers, composers, music producers, etc.).
The professor cited a study that charted the amount of content produced before and after the elimination of those restrictions. The study showed that the amount of content produced by the industry before and after the lifting of those artist protections had not changed. So the conclusion the professor and his ilk have come to is that those protections must not have been necessary!!
WOW!! Talk about a major misunderstanding of your intended subject!!
The inference here is that the additional protections the laws had been providing would motivate artists to produce more because income from your work is more likely. And conversely, without those protections artists will produce less music.
These conclusions are based on a business model that, I suppose, works for shoes or driveway pavers or plumbing pipe. But artists produce because we HAVE TO! Not just because we are getting paid to do it. Don’t get me wrong, here. Getting paid for what you create is important. I have always felt the creator of the art should be fairly compensated for each creation. But it is also true that we do not choose to become artists. We are called to it by something greater than ourselves. And it is a demanding calling.
Whether you are a musician, a writer, a painter, a poet, a sculptor, a clothing designer, a novelist, a dancer or any other type of creative spirit there is something within you that demands to be expressed. Those who ignore that demand will pay the price, one way or the other, in personal anguish.
I have often compared the artistic calling to having a fever. You can create the circumstances for its expression or you can fight it and feel the effects but it has got to come out of your system one way or another or you burn up.
Artists will create whether or not we are fairly treated by society. And that is the crux of the misunderstanding of the politicians and industry experts who are creating the laws that either protect us or leave us to be taken advantage of.
As long as the politicians treat art the same way they treat widgets we will never have a system that truly understands why we create art or that values what artists contribute to society.
If any of you out there are brave enough to contact Professor Lunney, please explain this to him.
Tara Sitser, Proud Singer/Songwriter
Los Angeles, CA
January 19, 2014