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Who profits from art?

by rdf Sat Jun 13th, 2009 at 09:16:49 AM EST

With the shift from "stuff" to "intellectual property" we are seeing a new type of law emerge. It started with changes to the traditional copyright concept, first by extending it to things other than the written word and then by lengthening its duration beyond what anyone had originally contemplated.

In addition the control of copyrighted material has been extended, notwithstanding the existence of the concept of fair use. Snippets of music that appear in other's music must now be cleared for use and paid for. Even images of things in public spaces, like skyscrapers, are demanding payment if the image features in a movie.

Right now we are in the midst of what may turn out to be an epic battle between publishers, authors and Google over the use of technically copyrighted material, but where the holder can no longer be found. These are called "orphan" works and Google wants to sell access to them, even though they don't have any rights, just because they took the time to digitize them. The also want an exclusive right to offer this service. This is an entirely new concept, privatizing something in the public domain.

I want to discuss a different aspect of the "ownership" issue. That is where the object itself is unique, such as a painting or sculpture. Ordinarily once such an item is sold the artist loses all rights to it. Some have made agreements concerning subsequent display of the item for commercial purposes (such as in a book). In other words they want to control the "content", but not the item itself.

A more interesting issue is what happens to the work when the original buyer choses to resell it? Typically, for a well-known artist, the price obtained may be much higher than the original buyer paid. The gain in value goes to the owner, not to the artist.

I'd like to propose a formal change to this concept of "ownership". In any future sales the artist gets a certain percentage of the gains realized. Why shouldn't the creator benefit from his work the same as an author? If a book suddenly becomes popular after it is published, the author benefits from the royalties from the additional sale.

I would extend this right to share in the gain indefinitely into the future, even after the original artist is dead. Collectors buy antiquities that are the cultural heritage of the society they come from, but the society doesn't benefit. Many times these are sold illegally so only the thieves make any money from the transaction. Several countries are now demanding that museums return items obtained under such questionable circumstances, especially those obtained during the heyday of colonialism.

In my scheme, when there is no direct line to the original artist, the royalty from the resale would go to a fund that is used to promote the arts and/or conserve other historical artifacts.

The system wouldn't be perfect, but music rights are collected by groups such as ASCAP and BMI and doled out according to a sampling scheme. Small private sales wouldn't be tracked, but the bigger sales go through auction houses or other public sales and keeping track wold be simple. Such places already keep databases of who owned various items and how much they have sold for over the years. Thus, those items which bring in the most money would be included in the plan. If a private seller avoided the scheme and then the person he sold it to later wanted to sell it at an auction, the lack of proof that the royalty had been paid could be used to collect the prior missed amount.

Artists should profit from their work, whenever anyone else does, it seems only fair. If they hadn't created it to start with there would be nothing to sell.

European Tribune - Who profits from art?
I'd like to propose a formal change to this concept of "ownership". In any future sales the artist gets a certain percentage of the gains realized. Why shouldn't the creator benefit from his work the same as an author? If a book suddenly becomes popular after it is published, the author benefits from the royalties from the additional sale.

This is already happening in art - there's a movement to pay artists a proportion of any future sales between owners.

I'm not sure how likely it is to succeed, but the problem is so obvious that it's already being considered.

Music and publishing are more complicated, because art sales still rely on a single unique and (supposedly) uncopyable object. Once art becomes 'content' and it becomes easy to make perfect digital copies, sanity seems to disappear completely.

The battle with Google is really about the use of creativity for crowd sourcing. Corporations are now reserving the right to seek solutions and content online without creating the tight contracts that used to be usual.

Publishing is still fairly conservative, so this will continue for a decade or two. But sooner or later even traditional publishers will realise that there's really no need for them to continue to work like this.

This means creators will compete for sponsorship with each other, and - of course - it drives down prices and returns, sometimes to zero. In fact sometimes it makes them negative - there's at least one crowd sourcing outfit which expects creators to pay to submit their ideas in return for feedback and a small chance of having them realised in a profitable sales run.

Apple's App Store is one of the more reasonable examples - developers get 70% gross of all sales and transactions, in return for access to a huge market.

Now - I'd be surprised if Apple wasn't considering 'book' publishing. A bigger iPhone would be at least as tempting as a Kindle, especially if it also did all of the usual iPhone things.

Amazon is already trying to lock down the e-pub market with its readers, and - interestingly - it's also trying to drive the existing independent print-on-demand publishers out of business by running its own service at a loss. Once they've gone, prices will rise again.

Once you're no longer using woodpulp, the links between hardware, marketing model, customer base and capitalist orientation become a free for all.

Music of course is something else again. Myspace also made sense for Murdoch because he did a fixed income ad deal with Google. That expires next year, and it's likely that Myspace will start losing money for him then.

That would be a good time to propose an alternative. But it's obvious that the old music-as-art-object idea no longer works for CDs, unless they're packaged as art objects - signed, limited editions, all of that.

Conventional CD releases are now in a twilight zone where they're not quite media, not quite objects, and not quite profitable as music - so no one knows what's going to happen there. Artist rights will emerge eventually from a new model, but it's not going to look anything like today's music business.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Jun 13th, 2009 at 01:23:49 PM EST
Authors don't profit from their books unless they own the copyright.

Many authors sign away the rights with their publishing contract.

One might argue that is no different than an artist selling a painting: you've signed away your rights.

If this weren't the case, one might ask what would happen to the art market.

by Upstate NY on Sat Jun 13th, 2009 at 11:47:49 PM EST
Authors sign a contract which specifies royalty rights in return for copyright. The usual deal is that an advance is paid, and then royalties are paid until the book is remaindered. Then the copyright usually reverts to the author - who can't do much with it, because the book's time will have been and gone.

Some publishers hold on to copyright no matter what. Those are bad publishers, and worth avoiding.

You can also get work for hire deals, but they usually work out at about 25% to 50% of the total return on an advance+royalty deal. Authors won't usually sign them unless they're very stupid or very desperate for cash.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Jun 14th, 2009 at 10:34:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe that's a UK thing, but in the states, many presses--the big commercial kind--own the copyright. Some of them don't even pay royalties. They pay one-time up front fees.

I know of National Book Award winning writers who have written books that have not been published at all by publishers, and the writers can't get the books back to sell them elsewhere. Once a book is purchased in the states, the copyright is typically held by the publisher unless the writer has retained it.

by Upstate NY on Tue Jun 16th, 2009 at 03:47:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I hope you don't mind me hijacking your diary, but I wrote a diary on the Google Books issue on DailyKos a while back. I'll paste it below:

The New York Review of Books has a fascinating article on the future of libraries and Google's electronic library project.


The basic argument goes that Google has stepped in where gov't and American public institutions have not to digitize copyrighted information without authorization, and by doing so, Google has consolidated so much control over copyrighted resources (Microsoft has recently bowed out of an attempt to battle Google on this front) that no copyright holders can dare challenge them anymore, given the recent class-action lawsuit which allows Google to copy texts willy-nilly without regard for purchasing rights to a text directly from the copyright holder. If you, the copyright holder, do not like it, then you can opt out. But remember, no one else is stepping up to the plate to digitize entire libraries.

The upshot of all this is that Google has sidestepped copyright law by force of its sheer size. It's an information behemoth. It cannot be resisted. Here's why:

Google's record suggests that it will not abuse its double-barreled fiscal-legal power. But what will happen if its current leaders sell the company or retire? The public will discover the answer from the prices that the future Google charges, especially the price of the institutional subscription licenses. The settlement leaves Google free to negotiate deals with each of its clients, although it announces two guiding principles: "(1) the realization of revenue at market rates for each Book and license on behalf of the Rightsholders and (2) the realization of broad access to the Books by the public, including institutions of higher education."

What will happen if Google favors profitability over access? Nothing, if I read the terms of the settlement correctly. Only the registry, acting for the copyright holders, has the power to force a change in the subscription prices charged by Google, and there is no reason to expect the registry to object if the prices are too high. Google may choose to be generous in its pricing, and I have reason to hope it may do so; but it could also employ a strategy comparable to the one that proved to be so effective in pushing up the price of scholarly journals: first, entice subscribers with low initial rates, and then, once they are hooked, ratchet up the rates as high as the traffic will bear. There will be no competitor to keep you honest.

Free-market advocates may argue that the market will correct itself. If Google charges too much, customers will cancel their subscriptions, and the price will drop. But there is no direct connection between supply and demand in the mechanism for the institutional licenses envisioned by the settlement. Students, faculty, and patrons of public libraries will not pay for the subscriptions. The payment will come from the libraries; and if the libraries fail to find enough money for the subscription renewals, they may arouse ferocious protests from readers who have become accustomed to Google's service. In the face of the protests, the libraries probably will cut back on other services, including the acquisition of books, just as they did when publishers ratcheted up the price of periodicals.

No one can predict what will happen. We can only read the terms of the settlement and guess about the future. If Google makes available, at a reasonable price, the combined holdings of all the major US libraries, who would not applaud? Would we not prefer a world in which this immense corpus of digitized books is accessible, even at a high price, to one in which it did not exist?

If you're a much smaller entity than Google, you would not dare digitize this much information on your own without getting the copyright. Ask any professor who has had to go through the copyright clearinghouse to have a text digitized for course reserve, there are high costs associated with digitizing. But Google gets away with it for one reason and one reason only: it has the largest database. The threat here is that, if you preclude Google from carrying your text, then in the future your text will not be carried in any digitized database at all, since none other than Google's will exist. Certainly, you'll be able to reproduce your text for the World-Wide-Web and publish it online, but it won't be searchable for research within the circumscribed limits of the world's greatest archive for research. Libraries and professional subscription databases are a great guardrail for keeping out, say, anything published by someone over at a questionable site. To opt out of Google's service, if you want to maintain copyright control, is essentially to relinquish your text to obscurity. Many of us are fine with that, obviously (i.e. publishing something on the web and not making money off it), but not everyone is.

By force of its size and monopoly, Google can charge any amount for its subscription service, and if we're hooked on this huge database, then a library will start to devote more and more money to this subscription as it possibly can, at the expense of purchasing hard cover books, at the expense of purchasing subscriptions to journals, at the expense of purchasing rare books and archives for study, etc. Once that happens, libraries will be obsolete.  If the sole reason for their existence becomes providing terminal windows from which to view Google books, then why have libraries at all? And then what will be the upshot on the bottom line for publishers?

I honestly can't see how the legal case passed muster at all, but apparently, it has. It just seems wrong to me.

by Upstate NY on Sat Jun 13th, 2009 at 11:55:32 PM EST
I've been worried about Google for a long time. If they don't index something or mis-index it, it becomes essentially invisible.

I also have an essay on this (actually two linked ones, here's the first):

Google and the Dissemination of Knowledge

I spent much of my professional career developing search and retrieval techniques and Google uses really primitive algorithms. The measures for retrieval are relevance vs recall. High recall means you deliver lots of stuff, but very little of it is useful. That's Google's model. Because the response time is so quick and it is easy to scroll through 10 or 50 hits people find something to look at. Studies have shown that people will take something in the first 20 items returned (this is true for library research as well) regardless of whether it is really what they need.

The poor recall means that you don't know what Google didn't deliver. Since the bulk of the searches are for trivia and shopping people tend not to mind.

Just try to find images or other non-text material to see one of the major failings.

I think the popularity of Wikipedia is because the articles have high relevance, even if they are sometimes inaccurate.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Sun Jun 14th, 2009 at 09:50:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"If they don't index something or mis-index it, it becomes essentially invisible."

No more invisible than it was prior to being scanned by Google.  That is, we're not stupid enough to destroy the originals just because Google has scanned them.  Hard-copies still exist.  Libraries still exist.  Inter-library loan still exists.  

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Mon Jun 15th, 2009 at 11:47:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They don't exist however.

Books are being warehoused at our major libraries.

I've been on internal university discussions regarding this issue. Increasingly, books are being stored elsewhere.

One of the big difficulties we are facing now is that universities are shaving library budgets by moving to a page-print on demand model. This is OK for people in the sciences, but those in the humanities still have research that is wedded to the book.

The future library will not be a home for books, that's for sure. All universities in the US are not budgeting for such libraries of the past. The future library will be totally digital, and because of that, university presses and small presses will crater and collapse.

Increasingly, schools and presses are joining the open journal movement which has created a space for peer review online, a space that avoids the ridiculously high costs of maintaining a database of PDFs based in books. Those databases charge each university up to $1 million a year! Scholars are bypassing such exorbitant costs by simply housing journals online. Presses will not be far behind.

by Upstate NY on Tue Jun 16th, 2009 at 03:53:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not where I work!.  (warning, pdf)


They are digging the gigantic hole for that thing right outside my window as I type.  (not pdf)

So, between that and having worked with rare books my whole life, you will have to forgive my steadfast optimism.  The fact is, the problem is not that books will be lost forever.  They will be technically more available to more people than ever before.  The real issue will become how to find out what is out there.  That is already the real problem with Google Books.  (FWIW, we are also working with Google Books. I can assure you our books are not being destroyed upon digitization.)

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Tue Jun 16th, 2009 at 04:20:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, the copy on your link just further reinforced my point-of-view. It says U Chicago is the only American library to make the commitment to keep books on campus for the next 20 years. It also talks about the conventional wisdom which is anti-books.
by Upstate NY on Tue Jun 16th, 2009 at 06:35:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You stated as a matter of fact that libraries and books are disappearing, books are being warehoused at our major libraries, and that the future library will not be a home for books.  I've given you a link illustrating precisely the opposite.  Spin that new information however you like to make it conform to your chicken little view of the world, if you must, if you are absolutely incapable of accepting that you might have been a little precipitous in your reading of crystal balls.    

Meanwhile, I'm choosing to remain in reality.    

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Wed Jun 17th, 2009 at 11:35:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, sorry to make you so defensive.

I didn't know that one library in Chicago--a library that touts itself as the only library in America committed to keeping books on campus, but even then only for 20 years, in the face of the anti-books prevailing wisdom (their words, not mine)--coulod save the world.

Meanwhile, all the librarians I've talked to see the writing on the while. Maybe that's why the New York Review of Books wrote an article on the matter. Maybe that's why libraries in American universities are right now up at arms with the budget cuts.

by Upstate NY on Wed Jun 17th, 2009 at 07:36:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have found some great stuff through Google books, whole texts of books that have been really important for my research, accessible from my desktop at home, saving me 80 miles of driving, gas and parking costs.  But that doesn't mean that there are things that have been missed because they were miscataloged (or that I couldnt' come up with the relevant search terms).

I frankly wish Google books would start scanning old periodicals, newspapers, broadsides, posters, maps, etc.

Of course, I would rather look at the real thing, but seeing it online helps to know what is worth really looking at.

I understand that there is a real problem concerning Google having a monopoly on internet access to certain books, but overall I think what they are doing is a good thing, especially with texts that are in the public domain.

I see this issue tied to the problems faced by the print media in general in the digital/internet "age."  There is probably one great solution out there just waiting to be found.

by jjellin on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 01:18:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Google is a private company. While I find their legal takeover of other's copyrights highly questionable, I can't blame them for building a database.

The problem is that they'll have no competition.

There's also a concern as you note with the discarding of paratexts when a corporate entity decides to digitize books, whether we're talking about dust jackets, watermarks, variant paper stocks, marginalia, end-papers, broadsides, etc.

Those huge warehouses that will become obsolete will also house many unknown rare and precious books that are still in general stacks. You can go into any old library and putz around the old dusty shelves, and you'll find unbelievably rare books.

by Upstate NY on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 01:30:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you mean the books can't be quickly retrieved from the warehouse?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 17th, 2009 at 11:42:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Upstate NY:
Increasingly, books are being stored elsewhere.
Meaning, off-site, so you can no longer browse the aisles and retrieve the book yourself?

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 17th, 2009 at 11:48:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Many large research libraries now have off-site warehouses.  The books can be retrieved from there, but it can sometimes take several days for that, like ILL.  

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Wed Jun 17th, 2009 at 11:50:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I know. Trinity here has had off-site "stacks" for more than twenty years. Retrieval was generally overnight. I don't see the problem.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 17th, 2009 at 11:58:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a zero sum game. If there's no competitor for the database, the database can set its price to the moon. Library budgets being what they are, (i.e. quite limited, as university libraries were the first units to suffer severe cuts in the current economy) there is grave concern that library book buying/book publishing will be severely damaged, even ended, by monopolistic databases. Some of these already charge over a million a year per school. Budgets of libraries are being cut by 15-20%. Meanwhile, database budgets are rising by 20%. Jstor, for instance, has escalated way out of proportion to any real increase in their operating expenses. One database, Elsevier, went from $1.5 to $2 million from this year to next year.

The vision of the library of the future comes from the sciences, pushed by the idea that technical info will become more accessible online. A job ad for head librarian at Stanford recently read:

The librarian will head "a library, but in the most advanced definition of that term, and ultimately, as the literatures of the disciplines move to digital form, it is envisioned as a bookless facility."

At all of the New York state centers of research, there are plans afoot to either tear down current libraries (schools need the space that books occupy) or else use the old space for academic computing services. Now, what would be the point in storing books for retrieval IF the university is already paying Google millions for their digital book service? That makes no sense.

So, why be concerned by this? Well, in this atmosphere of budget cuts, the libraries are top targets. Why? Because they are a source of large, relatively accessible cuts that can be made on short notice (i.e. hack a database, save a million). That problem is worsened because many expensive databases are used mainly by the sciences, and those are looking at substantial inflationary increases. Put two and two together: budget cuts, price increases, something is going to give. In the political reality of modern universities, the sciences receive first priority.

About these science inspired bookless facilities: they've become more learning centers (i.e. computer & literacy skill centers) than research centers. I'm all for learning and literacy, of course, but in terms of allocated space, it will come at the expense of research.

I'm not bemoaning the death of book culture here as much as I am concerned with database monopolies. Book culture is a concern in that budgets for book buying and journal subscriptions are being slashed (and that's been expected for several years now). So, basically, the media (university books and journal articles) which sustain the conversations in many disciplines are disappearing. This has been the recent reality:

  1. University libraries have significantly reduced the number of monographs they purchase.  These reductions especially impact the humanities where much very important research is published first and only in book form.

  2. University presses, under constraint by the financial officers of university administrations to "break even," have significantly reduced the number of monographs they publish.

  3. I've run into difficulties accessing a journal online if my school has not subscribed to that journal directly through the database. Print copies are out of the question.

But again, this is mere carping about the dying of book culture. More concerning for me is control of digitization.

For instance, the model for online retrieval comes from the sciences. This literally means that books are now available only page by page, since that has become the price model (per page pricing). Many of those in the Humanities have been objecting to the new models because it doesn't fit our research methods.

In fact, many scholars have gone beyond the problem and already suggested ways in which Humanists can intervene in the debate.

Here's a lengthy quote from Johanna Drucker on possible modes of intervention for scholars (note, she isn't protesting the loss of books, but rather how books will be digitized, saved, searched, in competition with Google): "The task of modeling an environment for scholarship (not just individual projects, but an environment, with a suite of tools for access, use, and research activity) is not a responsibility that can be offloaded onto libraries or technical staffs. I cannot say this strongly or clearly enough: The design of digital tools for scholarship is an intellectual responsibility, not a technical task. After all, what will such "research portals" do? What kinds of work will they be designed to support? Editing? Annotation? Aggregation of leaves of manuscripts scattered at remote institutions? Collaborative writing? Close readings? Data mining? Information display? Multimedia writing? Networked conversation? Publishing? Those are enormous questions, to which no scholar would have the same set of answers as another. No scholar would have the same requirements. But creating boutique, custom solutions on a project-by-project basis is not practical, and the labor involved is too costly. The scope of the task ahead is nothing short of modeling scholarly activity anew in digital media. To answer that challenge, humanists have to do more than wave their hands at the technical professionals."

"Scholars in the humanities have been particularly remiss in taking seriously the role they need to play in this project. For years when I was at the University of Virginia, where the library took the lead on digital-humanities projects, serving as home, sponsor, mentor, and friend to the many research institutes that helped break new ground and establish now-standard practices, faculty members involved in those activities came up repeatedly against a wall of resistance from within their ranks. Humanities, arts, and social-science colleagues repeatedly dismissed digital projects as work for the library community. Most considered the creation of digital materials a technical matter of access, a thing "they" should do and take care of for "us." That attitude contains a grotesque misunderstanding of the basic problem: Unless we scholars are involved in designing the working environments of our digital future, we will find ourselves in a future that doesn't work, without the methods and materials essential to our undertakings. Returning to the architecture analogy, you shouldn't build a new house without dialogue between architect and client. Would you let a contractor determine basic space allocation? Technical experts and library professionals are not mind readers. Design must emerge from the context of use."

I think she's way way too optimistic. The likelihood is that as with the naming of "learning" centers, the Humanities instructor will be charged with literacy concerns, not research, while the digital database serves the sciences in a presumably adequate fashion. This has been my experience anyway, and I have access to one of the top two libraries in New York state, a state that spends more money on education per capita than any other US state. At my previous school, ranked in the top 20, my current library was the envy of my colleagues.

by Upstate NY on Wed Jun 17th, 2009 at 08:36:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think an important part of the answer to control of the digital material is Open Access publishing.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 07:16:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed, I mentioned this in one of my first posts in this thread.

I am on an editorial board of one such journal already. The model should have been adopted before libraries started to get into this mess. The problem remains for print books, however. Journals can certainly go the electronic route.

by Upstate NY on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 10:36:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thought it was strange that you omitted it...

Read this thread in installments and missed the connection to that post. Sorry about that.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 10:50:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am developing a proposal in my mind about this issue.

I propose a "pay for dsplay" o "pay for interchange" artist fee.
All work is, in principle open source. If you write a song or a painting or a Tv series or.. well whatever.

Then an public-prrivate (or whatever) enterprise tracks the number of displays which the authors do (each one can track their own work and report it if they want). In the case of internet you can count the donwloads and views rom your own free page.

This organization gets the funding from a tax in any digital and support material. All museums, books, DVD pay  the fee. So, the price of the book will be basicallya fee, the CD, DVD, hard disks will charge the fee depending on the store capacity. Museums will charge according to space.

And all the revenues will be given to the authors depending on the distribution.

So, art will be open and for free, the physical support will be charged.. and the authors will get according to their ability to get a hearing...

Open source but artitst can live.. and they do not need huge superstructures.. jsut a good group of fans..

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sun Jun 14th, 2009 at 08:04:32 AM EST
If I understand correctly in the UK libraries pay a fee to a clearing house that is then distributed to authors.

This is to compensate for the royalties lost because the same book is lent out to many readers.

I'm not so concerned with intangible intellectual property, like music downloads. There are enough people making or hoping to make lots of money from this so revenue capture will be worked out eventually.

I'm mostly dealing with art where the thing itself (the artifact) is thought to have value. One can sell a copy of a painting or display it online, but only one owner can actually possess the original at a time. When the value goes up through sale then the artist or a proxy should share in this gain.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Sun Jun 14th, 2009 at 09:55:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So why is Art a special case?  By the same logic, if I sell my car, should the car company get a share of the money?

If I sell a piece of art that someone sells on for an inflated price, then that increases the value of all future pieces of art that I produce, because a market price has been set for my work.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Jun 14th, 2009 at 09:59:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you sell your car you'll already have made a loss on it. At best you'll break even.

If you get lucky and buy a piece by Mr Upandcoming, hold on to it for a decade or two and then sell on an upswing of popularity, you can make millions.

Worse, if your surname is Saatchi, you can define the market and use it create millions by talking up artists you happen to collect.

(Until a lot of your collection disappears in a mysterious and unexpected fire. Allegedly.)

This game is played more often than you might expect.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Jun 14th, 2009 at 10:43:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The art market is a boiler room. No different from any other scams.

The year 2000 movie 'Boiler Room' is fairly interesting on the business definition - and somewhat ahead of it's time. I got more out of it than 'Wall Street'.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Jun 14th, 2009 at 10:51:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If I understand correctly in the UK libraries pay a fee to a clearing house that is then distributed to authors.

Yes, but it's not much. When I was getting five figure royalties for book sales, the most I ever had from PLR was £800, and that was a one off. A few years of £200 was more usual.

There's a fixed PLR pot and the most popular authors walk off with most of it.

Not that I'm going to complain about getting money for nothing, but it's an approach that needs fine tuning to support less successful authors - and indeed libraries in general, which are chronically underfunded in the UK.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Jun 14th, 2009 at 10:38:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd like to propose a formal change to this concept of "ownership". In any future sales the artist gets a certain percentage of the gains realized. ...

I would extend this right to share in the gain indefinitely into the future, even after the original artist is dead. ...

In my scheme, when there is no direct line to the original artist, the royalty from the resale would go to a fund that is used to promote the arts and/or conserve other historical artifacts.

Droit de suite (EU directive) - citations

What distinction between "author" and "creator" do you intend?

Why shouldn't the creator benefit from his work the same as an author?

If it is to emphasize the reproducibility of a form of an original work (predicating useful life and future income) I would say the distinction is not useful. The number of art works (or IP) created that are reproducible far exceed those that are singular or limited editions such as "masterpieces," installations, and archaeological artifacts. Forms of modern art are historically distinguished precisely by applications of mass production technologies to their conceptualization and realization.

If it is to differentiate forms --literature : all other forms, author : creator, respectively-- I would say again the distinction is not useful. For you are discussing a commercial relationship between creator and types of consumers such as licensees and "cover bands" who enjoy or financially benefit from derivative uses in (reproduction of) the original work --copyrights.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Jun 14th, 2009 at 01:42:24 PM EST
In France at least, Architecture is considered as some form of art. We have a copyright on our design and even years later, if someone wants to modify the building or house he has to ask the authorization to the architect or his heirs. Same applies to pictures of the built work.

This isn't really practical in everyday' life, as in industry or offices buildings, or even social housings, modifications can be necessary in time (as thermal isolation)...
 I usually relinquish that copyright on the contract, as I feel that the building should have the right to live and evolve with the life of it's inhabitants.

I wonder if in music, paintings, or writing, some authors wouldn't prefer to see it that way. And be paid once (but better) then wait for their heirs to live on the art they made for a living ?

As said elsewhere, I don't really believe in property, and apply that feeling to art too.

"What can I do, What can I write, Against the fall of Night". A.E. Housman

by margouillat (hemidactylus(dot)frenatus(at)wanadoo(dot)fr) on Sun Jun 14th, 2009 at 01:45:53 PM EST

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