A Copyleft Rorschach Test

Looking back at the editorial illustration that accompanied Megan McArdle‘s article (“The Freeloaders,” in the May Atlantic) about how “a generation of file-sharers is ruining the future of entertainment,” it occurs to me that the picture, by the very talented Jeremy Traum, serves as a kind of Rorschach test for the reader:

Does it look beautiful to you, or does it alarm you?

Do you want to hear what this music sounds like, or does it immediately telegraph the degradation of composition?

Perhaps not surprisingly, I thought it looked beautiful when I first saw it, and I still do. Of course, car crashes can be beautiful, assuming you’re not in them, so I should add that it’s also something that I’d want to hear — it resembles some dream collaboration between illustrator Istvan Banyai and composer/sound-artist Stephen Vitiello.

Full article at theatlantic.com. My concerns with McArdle’s thesis at disquiet.com.

2 thoughts on “A Copyleft Rorschach Test

  1. “Even if we don’t, people will still make pictures, sing songs, and write stories—just not as frequently, or as lavishly.”

    She’s got this exactly backwards. What she misses is that the reason musicians needed record label support has gone away. Musicians can now record hi-fidelity multi-track pieces at home at little or no cost and can distribute their music world-wide without the help of the traditional labels. The frequency and quality increase just as sales decrease…

  2. Very good point. That word “lavish” is odd. I certainly bemoan the slow dissolution of large-scale studios, but the tools now available to home-recordists are incredible. Frequency and lavish-ness (if the latter is even a concern) don’t strike me as threatened. I’ve been writing about music professionally since 1988, and there’s more music by more people for me to listen to than ever.

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