First, I promise you, this post is not a satire.
There’s a lot of grumbling going on around the internet due to SOPA: The “Stop Online Piracy Act.” On one side is a group of people who believe that online piracy of other artists’ copyrighted work has gotten way out of hand and needs to stop. On the other side is a group of people who believe that the stringent parameters of the bill will cripple the internet as well as actually hurt the spread of art. I’m still looking into the details, so I personally haven’t formed an opinion one way or the other.
But I think there’s even a bigger question that’s worth asking. Should art be free? And if it’s sold, is it no longer “pure” art?
As a video producer who make his living with my craft, my gut reaction to this question is “Art can be sold, and it can still be art.” That’s the businessman side of me talking.
However, I have to admit, the artist side of me sometimes ponders this question. Here are a few facts I know:
- In my nearly ten years in this business, the overwhelming majority of films I’ve had the most fun making were the ones where I was not paid.
- There are many projects I have taken strictly because they help pay the bills. They don’t necessarily challenge me creatively nor do they excite me.
- Because filmmaking has become my job, there are times when I hate it because it feels like something I have to do, rather than want to do.
- There seems to be a growing movement of personal work by professional artists looking for an outlet for their creativity.
Below is an excerpt from a Francis Ford Coppola interview on The99Percent.com.
You have to remember that it’s only a few hundred years, if that much, that artists are working with money. Artists never got money. Artists had a patron, either the leader of the state or the duke of Weimar or somewhere, or the church, the pope. Or they had another job. I have another job. I make films. No one tells me what to do. But I make the money in the wine industry. You work another job and get up at five in the morning and write your script.
This idea of Metallica or some rock n’ roll singer being rich, that’s not necessarily going to happen anymore. Because, as we enter into a new age, maybe art will be free. Maybe the students are right. They should be able to download music and movies. I’m going to be shot for saying this. But who said art has to cost money? And therefore, who says artists have to make money?
So what do you think? Is Francis right? Should art be free? Does it lose its purity when it’s mixed with commerce? Would it be better to go back and get that 9 to 5 so that filmmaking and photography can be fun again? Is SOPA trying to uphold an outdated system of copyright protection that hinders rather than helps the spread of art?
Here are a couple of very intriguing interviews that offer an interesting perspective.
Author Neil Gaiman has a change of heart regarding “piracy”.
This will probably be the only time you ever see me post a video of Michael Moore without criticizing him. But, despite my personal feelings about Mr. Moore, the comments he makes in this video are worth seriously considering.