The Index on Censorship just published a dialogue on the future of copyright between Creative Commons CEO Cathy Casserly and British writer and Society of Authors president Philip Pullman. Pullman writes that internet piracy has made it harder for creators to make money:
It is outrageous that anyone can steal an artist’s else’s work and get away with it. It is theft, as surely as reaching into someone’s pocket and taking their wallet is theft. Writers and musicians work in poverty and obscurity for years in order to bring their work to a pitch of skill and imaginative depth that gives delight to their audiences, and as soon as they achieve that, the possibility of making a living from it is taken away from them. There are some who are lucky enough to do well despite the theft and the piracy that goes on all around them; there are many more who are not. The principle is simple, and unaltered by technology, science, or magic: if we want to enjoy the work that someone does, we should pay for it.
Cathy argues that Internet distribution – and even creators allowing others to reuse their work under an open license – has had a transformative effect on artists’ careers.
Copyright was created in an analog age. By default, copyright closes the door on countless ways that people can share, build upon, and remix each other’s work, possibilities that were unimaginable when those laws were established. For [science fiction author Cory Doctorow] and artists like him, people sharing and creatively reusing their work literally translates into new fans and new revenue streams. That’s the problem with the all-or-nothing approach to copyright. The All Rights Reserved default doesn’t just restrict the kinds of reuse that eat into your sales; it also restricts the kinds of reuse that can help you build a following in the first place.