We Don't Know What We Don't Know
Barely a sip into my first coffee of the day, I started reading these posts. Big money. Big media. Lobbyists. Leveraging. Oligopolies! I thought I knew a thing or two about the policy issues on the table, but suddenly I was reminded again how ineffective and small my potential to influence them seemed.
I took a moment
to hide to catch up on the other items in my Google reader. Ah, a post commenting on a post about the trailer for the new Facebook movie. That seemed like safe viewing. But I couldn't escape the topic at hand. That haunting soundtrack it has featuring an all-girl choral version of Radiohead's "Creep." Lovely voices singing about not belonging but wanting to have control, while actors depicting real people yell at each other, first about their big, creative idea, and then later (and at a higher volume), about money and ownership of that idea. Lawyers are then involved. There are tears, discussions of copyright and privacy violations, and things are lit on fire.
In real life, of course, issues of creativity, cash, and control don't usually get such a dramatic arc and backing track. To bad, because that would make policy work more exciting.
If sports have taught some of us only one thing, it's that being on the defensive is generally not the position of power. That seems to be the position we're playing from, however. Take this as an example: Composer Mike Rugnetta recently pointed out his perception that "that NO ONE - including those who get PRO checks - understands how rights mgmt works...Myself included; I have NO idea. Obviously this is a very broken system." And that's just a single example in a stack of issues where artists find themselves frustratingly confused about how things function and who is influencing what and why. Artists have been empowered by new technologies to control more aspects of their own work and career trajectories, but absent a middleman representing them, this brave new world also means that they need a way to look out for the larger political and legal issues pertinent to their creative life. But how do you DIY a lobbying effort?
Artists are often the bravest and most audacious people I know, but current circumstances seem to indicate that we need some serious(ly creative) methods for directing action/education on what we can do as individuals, what organizations we can look to for help, and how--absent $ resources to get it done--we can help educate our confused colleagues. I appreciate Doug's concern that artists probably don't even all want to pull in the same direction, and his recommendation that at the very least we need to be loud and proud in our debates. Still, even if our house is a bit divided, can we influence more people with the power of our creativity/the networks of our fanbases than big media could buy with big cash if we develop better methods for directing where to lob it?
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