Next time you want to download copyrighted material from the Internet illegally, think of my friend Bob.
?I was a singer-songwriter who had an ?artistic development? deal in Nashville during 2001 to 2002,? Bob wrote me in a recent letter.
?However, the music downloading issues of the past few years killed my Nashville deal. Much of the music industry was hit hard from this illegal activity. From 1999 to 2002, CD sales were down a staggering 30%.?
According to an article in BusinessWeek (12/27/04), online thieves download 2.6 billion illegal music files and 12 million movies a month, costing the music and movie industries millions of dollars a year: “The problem is finding a way to protect copyright holders without blocking important innovations such as the iPod.”
As Harlan Ellison explained to me when I interviewed him for the May 2004 issue of Writer?s Digest magazine:
?There is a culture of belief today that everything should be free. The Internet is the glaring promoter of such slacker-gen ?philosophy.?
?People have been gulled into believing that everything should be free, and that if a professional gets published, well, any thief can steal it, and post it, and the thug feels abused if you whack him for it.
?I?ll go to speak at a college, and I?ll have some kid stand up and say, ?Well, writers shouldn?t be paid; they should put their stuff up; and if people like it they get paid for it.? And I think: what the hell looneytune universe are you living in, kid? The question indicates a total lack of understanding of how Reality Works. This kid?s been living off mommy and daddy too long.
?These mooks don?t think of writing as a craft or even as an occupation. They think it?s some kind of dilettante behavior. Much like their own lives.?
So let me ask: Why are people who advocate Citizens Publishing so dead set against business models where creators charge money — and get paid — for fiction, journalism, music, art, and other content?
Why should ?content be free,? as so many Internet enthusiasts insist ? while people in all other professions, from plumbers to psychotherapists, get paid for their expertise, talents, and efforts?
What say you?