Blog / 2011 / Artists Who Believe in Copyright Are Like Tea Partyists.

September 27, 2011

The similarity lies in where these groups place their priorities.

As far as I understand it, one of the tenants of Tea Partyism is the idea that the wealthy—both human people and legal people (corporations)—deserve any and all tax breaks they get. The stated reasoning behind this belief is that if the wealthy are allowed to keep more of their money they will reinvest it wisely in society and in that way improve the economy. Underlying this reasoning is a secret dream. All Tea Partyists want to believe that one day they will be rich, and, when that day comes, they want to be able to keep as much of that wealth as possible.

Similarly, artists who support copyright believe that it protects the sanctity of intellectual property. They reason that if artists are allowed to control the use of their creative output they will create more and in that way contribute more to society. Of course, every artist also thinks that one day something they make will be popular or important enough for everyone to want a piece of it. When that day comes, the artist will make a killing on licensing fees and copyright infringement lawsuits.

In other words, both the Tea Partyists and the artists who champion copyright are focused on their future potential wealth.

the real Superman
Gwenn Seemel
This Looks Like a Job for a Chicano! (Mexican-American, Luis)
2008
acrylic on bird’s eye piqué
19 x 25 inches
(Part of Apple Pie, a series about the American identity.)

What if instead of looking to a possible one-day maybe world, Tea Partyists and artists who use copyright looked at the world as it stands today? A world where the rich are getting richer and the poor, poorer. A world where corporations—not artists—own the rights to a good deal of our favorite bits of culture.

A world that doesn’t have to be this way.

If creatives work together to invalidate copyright law, we can at least insure that culture-making is possible in the future—a worthy cause in itself—but our actions can have more widespread consequences too. We can change the way laws are made.

Currently, copyright has been extended almost indefinitely by corporate interests manipulating lawmakers. The original 14 years of copyright have now become 100+ years, and Congress hasn’t shown us that they’ll deny corporations extensions if asked for more. If artists can overturn intellectual property law, we might be able to rekindle the original spirit of law-making in this country—for the people and by the people, not for the corporations and by the corporations.

In other words, invalidating copyright could clean up some of the mess that Tea Partyists and their ilk keep making.

UPDATE

May 30, 2018

You can now purchase or download my book about questioning copyright and you can also watch this talk about freeing your art and yourself from copyright.

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