Monday, October 29, 2012

Entertainment as Hobby

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.


  1. Wonderfully put, Marilyn!!

    I wasn't sure to be mad or flattered when the guy was taking pictures of what I'd made. Loved my work but didn't buy a thing.

    1. Thanks, Meg. A little flattered, sure, but if he wants to enjoy the art, here's a suggestion: BUY a piece of it. Don't take pictures to enjoy for free later (or, worse, to try to duplicate later).

      Next time you show your stuff, put up a "No Photos" sign and enforce it.

  2. I think you could take him in a cage fight. :)

    1. Ooh, your confidence in me is inspiring!

      If nothing else, I could beat him with copies of my books. :)

  3. Isn't it interesting how some folks can be so free handed with other people's money. Big news flash for anyone who thinks the same as Jack: Writers and all artists have to eat just like everyone else.

    1. Amen, Jackie. Back when I only dreamed about being a published author (dreamed and read and wrote and wrote and wrote), I thought authors were magical, celestial beings, but even then I understood they had to eat and wear clothes and pay bills. I just don't get it . . .

  4. Lord, I would love to give away my art if someone would take care of all my expenses. Oh, and do all my pesky chores also.

    1. Exactly. Like a couple centuries ago when artists had patrons who supported them while they created. I think that would be incredibly inspiring.

      Until then my mortgage company wants the house payment.

  5. I'm with Rhenna. You ABSOLUTELY could take him in a cage fight. He wouldn't stand a chance.
    I've heard it said that stealing books, music, photographing art (and not paying) is a huge compliment. Ha!

    It's stealing, pure and simple.

    Remember the girl who was charged with illegally downloading music a few years ago? Did that really happen? If it did happen, it makes me wonder why they went after her and if they later apologized, because I haven't heard of it happeneing to anyone else.

    1. happening, not happeneing. Dur.

    2. Thanks! Will you and Rhenna be my tag-team partners?

      I've heard that compliment crap before, too. Yeah, let's go to Reasor's and tell them we admire their beef so much that we're stealing it. See how far that gets us. (In town here, it would be about two miles -- to the county jail.)

      There was a teenage girl prosecuted for pirating music years ago, but I don't remember the details. The sad fact is, copyright infringement (piracy) is investigated by the FBI, and right now it comes low on their priorities. Also, most pirate websites (at least for books) are set up outside of the US, so the people running them aren't subject to American laws.

      For piracy overall, one of the biggest sources in YouTube. A huge percentage of movies, TV shows and music videos posted there is done illegally. A woman once put up my entire movie. Bob called Hallmark, and their legal department had it down within hours. About a year later, she put it up again, this time deliberately misspelling the name. She got caught again, and YouTube took it down again. But there was no prosecutory merit to get the FBI involved.

      My summer book, IN THE ENEMY'S ARMS, was on pirate sites before it even released in the stores. Sigh . . .