This morning, over coffee, I was reading an article about Google and Viacom and copyright in New York magazine. Once upon a time (not so long ago) I was a staunch defender of copyright and even thought that it should exist in perpetuity — why shouldn’t I have the right to pass future profits on to my heirs? Why should anyone other than myself and my assigns reap the benefits from my own work? But I’m beginning to change my mind, or perhaps more specifically, my focus.
What is important to me? I’d like to be able to work at my craft and earn an honest wage doing so. I’d even like a little recognition for my efforts. I want to be able to pay my bills, and afford a few luxuries. (Health insurance should not be a luxury, but that’s another discussion). The image of others using my work to turn a profit without compensating me still doesn’t feel fair, but does that really matter? If I have what I need, and maybe a little more, and if am relatively healthy and able to enjoy family and friends, that should be enough. And if someone else also benefits from my work, either monetarily or emotionally, mightn’t that be a good thing?
I’m growing weary of the whole argument and found myself skimming large parts of the article, but one statement stuck with me — the writer described the Google mindset as in favor of win-win situations while Viacom’s game was a strictly “I win/you lose” scenario. I don’t know whether or not the characterization of either company is accurate, but I do believe that the world would be a better place if “we” weren’t so darned greedy. Eating a whole pie alone causes more than indigestion.