The EU’s Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, recently gave a speech admitting copyright doesn’t work and citizens hate it:
legal enforceability is becoming increasingly difficult; the millions of dollars invested trying to enforce copyright have not stemmed piracy. Meanwhile citizens increasingly hear the word copyright and hate what is behind it. Sadly, many see the current system as a tool to punish and withhold, not a tool to recognise and reward.
Not only does it not work for citizens and consumers, it doesn’t work for artists either:
1000 euros a month is not much to live off. Often less than the minimum wage. But most artists, and not only the young ones at the early stages of their career, have to do so. Half the fine artists in the UK, half the “professional” authors in Germany, and, I am told, an incredible 97.5% of one of the biggest collecting society’s members in Europe, receive less than that paltry payment of 1000 euros a month for their copyright works. Of course, the best-paid in this sector earn a lot, and well done to them. But at the bottom of the pyramid are a whole mass of people who need independent means or a second job just to survive.
This is a devastatingly hard way to earn a living.
But even though Kroes realises copyright has dug itself into a hole, she thinks the solution is to continue digging:
We need to keep on fighting against piracy
Kroes admits the present strategy doesn’t work, so why does she want to keep on doing it? As Einstein pointed out, it’s insane to keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. I think she’s pushing the pro-copyright party line because although she recognises the problem, she doesn’t have the insight to imagine any alternative.
As for alternatives, there are several. For example: live performances, merchandising, crowdsourced prepayment, frictionless micropayments, tip-jar systems such as flattr. It may even make sense, some of the time, for culture to be funded by a broadband tax.