There's a common lie going around -- has been going around ever since the first time some moron figured out how to illegally copy a music cassette or CD and share it on the Internet with other morons who were too cheap to pay for what they wanted. The lie has been perpetuated by people who make a living allowing/helping others to steal copyrighted work and repeated by some people who just somehow, apparently don't know any better.
"Real musicians care about the music, not about the money."
That's a quote from some guy named Jack Gillespie in a comment on a piracy article last week on the the Huffington Post.
The morons' theory is exactly that: real entertainers -- musicians, actors, authors, etc. -- care only about their art. They create for the pure pleasure of creating. They want their music to be heard, their shows to be seen, their books to be read, for the sole pleasure of flexing their creative muscles and bringing pleasure to their audience.
In a word, bullshit.
There's no doubt that every creative person has a desire to share their creativity. A person very well might have a talent for some endeavor, but talent gets you nowhere without hard work and commitment. The creative person who doesn't put thousands of hours into studying and improving his/her craft doesn't exist. It's a passion, granted, but it's also work, hard work, just like becoming a doctor, an engineer, a lawyer.
But no one expects a doctor, an engineer or a lawyer to work for free, do they? Even the suggestion would be viewed as ludicrous.
So why do people expect authors, musicians, artists and poets to work free?
Yes, every author I know wants people to read their books. But no one (with the possibility of one writer I know) wants to give their books away for free. (And that one author wouldn't turn down payment. Believe me.)
Art in any of its forms is a need in the artist. They are driven to create.
But it's also a job. Those books don't write themselves; those instruments don't pay for themselves; those paints and canvasses don't magically appear in studios that build themselves. It's a job. Not only does it cost the artist to produce, but while s/he does it, s/he has to eat, pay utilities and rent and car payments and buy clothing.
If creative people are supposed to give away their products for free, why isn't the rest of the world giving us stuff for free, like houses, food, electricity, computers, medical care, education for our kids? We have to live. We have obligations. We need exactly the same things you work to obtain, and that's what we're doing. We're working. To make a living. To make -- God forbid! -- money from our art so that we can continue to produce it and not have to give it up in order to get a paying job to survive.
Saying that it's okay to steal our product because "real" artists do it solely for the art and not for the money is so incredibly stupid that I -- who earn my living with words -- cannot find the words to express it.
I don't know what Jack Gillespie and all the thieves who pirate music, books, movies, etc., do for a living, but it's a fair bet, for the ones who have a job, that they don't do it for free. They may love it, they may hate it, but they do it for one reason above all others: for the paycheck.
And so do we.