Clark Sorley: It’s time for a change

“Good piece, Brian. The Eliots will be coming to take you away shortly.

It’s not so unthinkable given the abuses of copyright. It was supposed to be a temporary suspension of the age old practice of sharing and copying but has become a quasi property right. Now with desktops, laptops, tablets et al being virtual copy machines connected to shared networks it looks like we’re returning to something resembling the ancient traditions. It’s hard to see how copyright can survive – that is without turning the world into a police state.

Indeed new ways need to be created for funding copyable art, ways that don’t dwell on units sold or fixate on who has the right to copy. The jumping up and down of the old guard is to be expected as it faces possible extinction.

And anyway the old system was never that great for most artists. For thirty years I’ve made a living exclusively from producing music recordings and earned little from actual royalties. Most such deals amounted to zero largely because the process was so easily and routinely corrupted. In the music biz you could never really know how much you were legitimately due and invariably it turned out to be nothing at all. That wasn’t funding the arts. It was more like using the arts to fund an expensive lottery in which only a small and privileged minority could participate.

No, it’s time for a change I think. The emergent tech ushers in that change as it has done historically. It disrupts and brings new opportunities in its wake. No one knows yet how these changes will play out. It’s a challenge, and a creative one at that. I welcome it.”

  • Clark Sorley