Sunday, February 17, 2008

Rocking the white house

I'm in one of those deadline crises that seems to require me to get up in the small hours to write certain scenes (in my next alien romance) which I don't want my family
reading over my shoulder as I type.

In my brief lurches onto aol, where I also receive transcripts of alien romance posts and comments in my mail, I noticed two things that inspired me to write what I'm about to write.

One was Margaret's Election blog.

The other was an aol news story.

It seems to me that the media and the newsblogosphere is focusing on the politics
of the original musician and copyright holder, but in my opinion, this is the wrong point, and no one seems to notice it.

What I see is that some --not all-- of the most prominent men in the country (and I don't care which political party they represent) seem to be setting an appalling example to all the world: that it is OK to perform a musician's copyrighted work at a public performance, or take a musician's copyrighted work as a theme tune for a multi-million dollar campaign, and yet not pay royalties and not seek permission!

It upsets me greatly to see that the musicians who complain are being vilified by commentators and bloggers. This might be because the majority of the public do not understand about copyright and that creative artists make their living from royalties.

I wish that some politicians or political commentators would set the record straight!

How embarrassing would it be to admit that there had been a misunderstanding, and that
the campaign's intention was to seek permission and pay the royalties?

How much of a nuisance would it be for an Election Committee to add a rule to the procedural manual (maybe under political contributions) about the use of copyrighted works as theme tunes or for public performances by musically gifted candidates?

Is there one set of rules for copyrighted music, or lyrics, and another for copyrighted works of fiction? I don't think so. Song lyrics are often poems. Some song lyrics are epic poems!

(OK, so I cannot see a political candidate performing a public reading of one of our alien romances. That may never happen, but that doesn't mean that writers shouldn't be concerned.)

Romance Writers of America has recently taken an interest in the issue of piracy of books. It's not just e-books. Books that have never been published as electronic books are being scanned, and shared or sold as e-books, and the authors never get a cent.

Other organizations such as EPIC and SFWA also do their best to put a stop to piracy, but as quickly as sites are shut down, they open again under a new name.

And part of the problem is that the sharers, copiers, and pirates feel like literary Robin Hoods. They seem to believe that all authors are millionaires, all publishers are profitable, editors and authors don't need an income, and that everyone has a right to read anything and everything without paying... or at least without paying the artist/author.

How many of you reading this blog (thank you!) have either had your written work pirated, or know someone who has had their work pirated?

How many of you think it is acceptable to file-share with friends or strangers --which cannot be done without making a copy, which is by definition publishing?

The way to share an e-book legally, is to let your friends borrow your e-book reader, or your computer.



  1. Anonymous11:28 AM EST

    setting an appalling example... that it is OK to perform a musician's copyrighted work at a public performance, or take a musician's copyrighted work as a theme tune for a multi-million dollar campaign, and yet not pay royalties and not seek permission!

    Permission is a big deal for a political theme. Musicians get called sellouts when their music is used in iPod ads. It's even riskier for them to be associated with a particular politician, like your BOSTON example.

    BTW, in many situations it's OK for *live* musicians to perform covers of others' works *in concert*.

  2. I'm going to tackle this issue of copyright-incomprehension from another angle in my Tuesday post this week.

    I used to think of the copyright issue (that a new generation doesn't see the morality of restricting the right to copy) as a singular occurance, a phenomenon of our modern world.

    I used to think it would straighten out by itself.

    Now I'm looking at it as part of something much bigger and will take that up in my Tuesday entry.

    I drafted that entry BEFORE reading this post. We're all on the same page here.

    Jacqueline Lichtenberg

  3. Jacqueline,

    Thank you for your comment. I am constantly amazed and tickled that you and I think the same things at the same time.


  4. Thanks for bringing up this issue. The general public just doesn't see these things the way we do. I remember when *I* sold my first book, I assumed that forever thereafter I would (1) sell everything I wrote, and (2) make lots of money. LOL.