01 April 2008

The Problem Isn't Infringement, it's Indifference

One of the interesting side-effects of the increasing number of artists making their work freely available with great success is that it demonstrates a deep and hitherto unappreciated facet of creativity: that the main problem is never "infringement" but simply indifference. That's why artists should be making it as easy as possible for people to access and share their work.

If any domain needed to understand this, it's poetry. Now don't get me, wrong, I love poetry: I am probably one of the few human beings alive who has read all of Spencer's The Faerie Queene, Byron's Don Juan and Wordworth's The Prelude (don't ask), but the sad fact is practically nobody reads poetry today. So what's the solution? Why, making it freely available:

By now, Poetree.coop has probably been shut down.

While it lasted, it was the best-designed, richest source of p2p poetry sharing available online. Only a typical lunk-headed heavy-handed ploy by the inner circle of poets was able to shut it down.

All the classics were there: Rod McKuen, Roald Dahl, even the Dr. (Seuss) himself. In addition, you could find the complete poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and even Thomas Moore.

So, amidst all of these gems, what happened? Why the controversy?

Alisha Grant, spokesperson for the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, had this to say, "We applaud the work of the FBI in shutting down this travesty of copyright. If we want great poetry, America, we're going to have to pay for it."

Oh, of course, it doesn't matter whether anyone *reads* your poetry, so long as you get paid for it. The idea that a real poet might be more concerned with the latter - and worry about the dosh later - is clearly an outmoded idea.

Maybe that's why nobody reads poetry.

Update: OK, so apparently this was an April Fool's Day joke: shame on me. What I *really* meant to write about was this, where the above comments still apply.


Bill Hooker said...

Um. You did click through to the "petition", right?

Glyn Moody said...

Er, not as such....

Anyway, the principle holds....