Monday, May 03, 2010


I just learned about copyleft, and Artlibre, and my innate socialist tendencies embrace the concept (as well as the clever name and the nifty symbol). Too much of the internet is used for monetary gain, and the concept of sharing material (musical and otherwise) just for the sake of creating community seems to have faded.

There are people who assume that if sheet music is offered online for free, it must not be worth much. I have a very different concept of value, particularly when it comes to my creative work. I believe that the more something is used, the more value it has.

Baby clothes gain value with each child that wears them. Children's books gain value with each reading, and they don't lose value when they are passed on to other children (unless they fall apart). Musical instruments gain value with age. Written music gains value every time it is played. I hope that the music I write and distribute for free by way of the internet (and I promise that the pieces I have in the public domain will stay there) gains value by being played by people who want to play it. Music gains particular value when it is played by excellent musicians.

I find this position empowering. The joy I get from writing music is in the writing and in the hearing. It is not in the selling (only 10% of the cover price of a commercially-published piece of music goes to a composer anyway). The time and thought that musicians put into an interpretation and/or a performance of a piece I write is ample payment for my efforts.


Anonymous said...

Copyleft is not actually a socialist model. The centralization of power is the socialist's as well as capitalist's model. And both seek controls and profits for their various purposes. It is my opinion that Copyleft is really anarchistic, taking power away from someone who would centralize control over public domain materials. The notion that public domain stances MUST travel with new public domain items is wonderful. (You might be a secret anarchist.)

Elaine Fine said...

I guess my secret is out, and I believe you are correct about Copyleft being more anarchist than socialist.

Kathryn Rose said...

I don't share my music for the sake of creating community as much as for the sake of contributing to a public body of work that is useful to others. I suppose that's a fairly fine distinction to make... it's more a recognition of the community I'm already in than an attempt to create a new one.

I release my work under Creative Commons licenses, though I have also attempted to release some work anonymously. I haven't decided yet whether I want to use a share-alike license (where any derivative works would also have to be free for others to use) or a simpler attribution-only model.

T. said...

Artistically generous composers are truly a gift to us all. Thanks for being one of them, Elaine!

Anonymous said...

"Children's books gain value with each reading, and they don't lose value when they are passed on to other children (unless they fall apart)."

I have never thought about it this way, and find this metaphor incredibly beautiful.

The true value of a book is only manifest when its actually being read. Copyright, as a form of censorship through control and restriction, only serves to obliterate this value.